Monday, July 31, 2006

What happens when we just never stop?

In MITWorld Videos "The Ceaseless Society: What Happens to Our Mind Body and Spirit When we Just Never Stop?", speakers Jon Kabat-Zinn: Founding Director, Stress Reduction Clinic, University of Massachusetts Medical Center and Tenzin LS Priyadarshi: Buddhist Chaplain and Visiting Scholar, MIT discuss the effects of busy life patterns on human mind and body and how to cope with it. Also explains why it is so important to truly live in the present and 'mindful' living and effects of meditation.



“we can get entrained into the rhythms of society as if we’re guinea pigs in an uncontrolled experiment run wild. No one’s minding the store.” The demands of daily life and an increasingly digital age leave us living for the future, and “if the present moment is only a clever way to get someplace else, then we’re never where we actually are.” So we’re perpetually dissatisfied ....

When the brain gets going, it can be very creative, says Kabat-Zinn, and the body suffers"



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Sunday, July 30, 2006

First-Ever NASDAQ Stock Market Remote Opening Bell From India

India's premier IT services firm Infosys(INFY) is set to create another record in the history of Indian IT industry and in the history of NASDAQ. On Monday July 31st 2006, Infosys Technologies Executives will ring the first ever opening bell remotely from the Infosys Global Education Center in Mysore, India. 


Media advisory released on 28th July 2006:



For the first time ever, The NASDAQ Stock Market will open its market remotely from India. On Monday July 31st 2006, Infosys Technologies Executives will ring the opening bell remotely from the Infosys Global Education Center in Mysore, India, the company's largest education facility, to celebrate the company's 25-year business anniversary.

The Opening Bell ceremony will be simultaneously displayed at the NASDAQ MarketSite from NASDAQ's premier broadcast studio in Times Square.


The Opening Bell is a ceremonial event that represents The NASDAQ Stock Market's virtual market model. As a result, NASDAQ can be opened from any location bringing together investors and market participants from around the world to mark the beginning of the trading day.


Who: Nandan M. Nilekani, Chief Executive Officer, President and Managing Director, Infosys N.R. Narayana Murthy, Chairman of the Board and Chief Mentor, Infosys Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Chairman, Planning Commission of India Bob Greifeld, President and Chief Executive Officer, The NASDAQ Stock Market. Also in attendance will be over 8,000 Infosys employees, along with 200 invited guests.


When: Monday, July 31st 2006 NASDAQ Opening Bell Ceremony: 9:20 a.m. E.T. to 9:45 a.m. E.T.


Where: Infosys Technologies Ltd. Mysore Campus - Global Education Center No. 350, Hebbal Electronics City Hootagalli, Mysore - 571 186


Webcast: A live Webcast of the NASDAQ Opening Bell will be available at: http://www.nasdaq.com/reference/marketsite_about.stm



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Dugg this story already.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Customer Service, in the deeds of Corporate America

Whatever the Corporate America mean 'Customer Service' in thier words, I often find it confusing and contrasting in thier deeds. Another manifestation of such Customer Service deed at Corporate America. This time it is at Kohls on Frankford Rd and Preston Road in Dallas TX.


Your Conveniece at Kohls


How is it a convenience to any customer?


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Friday, July 28, 2006

Complexifiers and Simplifiers

Read an interesting discussion at Berkun Blog: There are two kinds of people: complexifiers and simplifers.



There are two kinds of people: people that make things complex and people that simplify.


Complexifiers are averse to reduction. Their instincts are to turn simple assignments into quagmires, and to reject simple ideas until they’re buried (or asphyxiated) in layers of abstraction. These are the people who write 25 page specifications when a picture will do and send long e-mails to the entire team when one phone call would suffice. When they see x=y, they want to play with it and show their talents, taking pleasure in creating the unneccesary (23x*z = 23y*z). They take pride in consuming more bandwith, time, and paitence than needed, and expect rewards for it.


Simplifiers thrive on concision. They look for the 6x=6y in the world, and happily turn it into x=y. They never let their ego get in the way of the short path. When you give them seemingly complicated tasks they simplify, consolidate and re-interpret on instinct, naturally seeking the simplest way to achieve what needs to be done. They find ways to communicate complex ideas in simple terms without losing the idea’s essense or power.



And my first gut feeling was, hey I see them every day, and almost every where. Particularly software consultants, who love to see themselves as Experts often tend to make things more complex, with their flashy and non-sense jargon, which they themselves could not comprehend.  Because, some people tend to think you are not doing any thing great if it looks simple. Neither true nor false completely. We see all these people every where. Here is what I think on Complexifiers and Simplifiers, (as commented on the original blog post)



Having more details should not be considered as complex. On a similar note, lack of details does not make it simple.


Whatever we do not understand with clarity, we often consider it as complex. Whatever we can easily undersand, we consider it as simple. So then (to a greater extent), complexity or simplicity is a subjective assertion, based on one’s understanding.


For a given problem, if somebody give a new solution that no body is aware of, people often tend to think the solution as complex, purely because they could not comprehend the solution and consequences. But if we give a solution that is understood well by others, they consider it as simple.


In my experience though, good problem solvers explain a solution with an analogy from a well known solution for understanding, and then delve into details that are quite new in the solution. End of the day, everybody understands the solution, so do not see any complexity.


Some people, who mostly out of lack of confidence, and insecurity do not want to have their solution understood by others. So they add too many irrelevant details to their solution and tend to explain the solution in a foreign way, with full of jargon and (commonly)unknown terms. The solution may be quite simple, now look unnecessarily complex.



While reading the comments, I found a great link to The Programmers' Stone posted by michael j talarczyk, that discusses about how software programmers think. I find it very interesting. Its a great 7 chapter long article that delves in to lot of depth in Software development.



The purpose of this site is to recapture, explore and celebrate the Art of Computer Programming. By so doing we hope to help the reader either become a better programmer, understand what less experienced programmers are struggling with, or communicate more effectively with other experienced programmers.



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Thursday, July 27, 2006

India in News - News links that I read at Digg

I have started using Digg to report news stories on India at Digg. Here is the link to Digg. As always, I don't enjoy report or link stories because they are fancy or entertaining news. Only stories that inform about India towards its dream of becoming a super power and consolidate India's recent momentum in economic growth. . You can read real stories about Grass root innovations and the people that are making the real Indian innovation happen at Good News India. Here are the recent duggs





China, India hold world ecological balance


The choices China and India make in the next few years will lead the world either down a development path based on efficient technologies and better stewardship of resources or towards a future beset by growing ecological instability, said the US-based Worldwatch Institute in its State of the World 2006 report. More…








Hutch, Radio Mirchi, Nokia and HP launches Visual Radio in India


Radio Mirchi becomes the first FM radio station to offer interactive content. Visual radio allows listeners to tune in to local FM radio via the receiver on their Nokia devices while simultaneously receiving interactive information and graphics that are synchronised with radio broadcast through cellular network onto the screen of the handset More…








Bright outlook for India's IT industry


Despite the stock-market crash, the future looks quite bright for India's information-technology industry. The top three Indian IT firms, Wipro, Infosys and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), are reporting better-than-expected first-quarter results, strengthening India's position as the global software hub. More…








U.S. Fashion's Passage to India


Apparel and home furnishing designers are joining Indian entrepreneurs in what seem to be perfect marriages of brand and infrastructure.The Indian-born financier Om Bathija, with Bombay-based partner Vijay Aggarwal, owns 70% of U.S. designer Tracy Reese's first store in Manhattan's Reese's company, TR Designs. More…








Wal-Mart mulls franchise deal with India's DLF-paper


The world's biggest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., is in talks with top Indian real estate firm DLF Universal Ltd. for a franchise deal in Asia's third-biggest economy. DLF plans to develop more than 100 malls in 60 Indian cities over the next four to five years, and Wal-Mart stores could be located in these malls. More…








India set to be world's publishing hub


Cambridge University Press, which has published books every year since it printed its first book in 1584, acquired 51 per cent stake in the Delhi-based Foundation Books on Monday, to enter India to grab a share of its fast-growing market of 20,000 new titles a year. Another unique advantage of India is its growing domestic markets. More…








INDIA = Strategic Advantage * (Price + Innovation)


INDIA uniquely offers price advantage along with highly competent Product Innovation talent pool. Any organization can reap the benefits of the flat world if the off shoring activity is carried with a definitive strategy and understanding. Two news items from today, that confirms both facets of India and its unique advantage. More…








India design firms as product innovators


Agilent, Via, Dell, Rambus, Windriver, Wolfson, Austria Microsystems, Tensilica and Sandisk have already established R&D Facilities in India to tap the pool of Innovators. Now ATI joins the pool with its plans to invest additional $50M in Hyderabad R&D Facility. IBM announced 11% increase in profit due to India. INDIA=Price + Innovation. More…








IBM's Profit Gains 11% as India Expansion Trims Costs


Any doubts about benefits offered by offshore software development, particularly in India? Read on. International Business Machines Corp., the world's biggest computer-services provider, said second-quarter profit rose 11 percent after the company reduced expenses by shifting work to India. More…



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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Google long way to go for Content, covers up usability with 'wow' factor

There is an interesting comparison on NYTimes comparing Google with Yahoo, "In the Race With Google, It’s Consistency vs. ‘Wow’".  "Wow" factor might get immediate attention in the media, but consistence and providing the features that make everyday life easy for users makes it a much better click. And on the article at NYTimes, there is an interesting graphic comapring Mail and News traffic on various sites. Google is far below in eMail and Google news sections.


Google maps is certainly a great tool for navigational aspects and for mixing the satelite images on the map. But the major short coming of google maps is that it won't allow users to store their addresses. Every time you visit google maps,  you have to type both the addresses manually, definitely not a 'wow' but 'ouch'. Yahoo maps allows users to store addresses so that next time you take directions from your house to a musical in your city, you don't have to type your home address again. Another nice feature that I use the most with Yahoo maps is the ability to take a turn-by-turn map. If I am going to a new area, turn by turn maps allows to see the exact turn points on the print out. Google does not offer this either.



Alan Eustace, a senior vice president for engineering and research at Google, said in an interview last week that the company had made a conscious choice to play down copycat features: “We are trying to come up with something that is new and different, that makes people say ‘Wow.’ ”


and


When asked about the lack of an address book in Google Maps in an interview last fall, Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president for search products and user experience, said it was a gap in the product. She said it was much easier to get the company's engineers to spend time developing pioneering new technology than a much more prosaic address storage system



Thats quite a cover up. If Google really don't want to provide copy cat features and some thing new, they should not have provided email service itself in the first place. Thier news mashup 'Google News' is quite a clone of Yahoo news, just in different look. If all they assume the differentiating factor is just the interface not the content, yeah, their lack of understanding shows up in the traffic reports in content (see the graphic on NYTimes article).


Google maps 'wow' factor is good to navigate and see the actual destination and route in general on the map and in satelite images, but when it comes to taking driving directions, Yahoo offers the 'convenience' and 'needed' factors.


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Friday, July 21, 2006

Amazon's Jeff Bezos invests in 37 Signals

The founders of 37 Signals, that set a new trend for web2.0 applications ( BaseCamp, Tadalist, backpack and Whiteboard) that are extremely simple and easy to use, have been long denying funding from Venture Capitalists. They have been looking for some thing special in a Venture capitalist, just like they have been some thing special in the world of vanilla web applications.
Since we launched Basecamp we’ve been contacted by nearly 30 different VC firms. We’ve never been interested in the typical traditional VC deal. With a few exceptions, all the VCs could offer us was cash and connections. We’re fine on both of those fronts. We don’t need their money to run the business and our little black book is full. We’re looking for something else.

What we’ve been looking for is the wisdom of a very special entrepreneur who’s been through what we’re going through. Someone who sees things a little differently and makes us feel right at home. Someone with a long term outlook, not a build-to-flip mentality. We found a perfect match in Jeff. Jeff is our kinda guy.

So here Jeff Bezos, of Amazon fame, is investing in 37 Signals through his private investment company Bezos Expeditions. While Jeff Bezos and founders of 37 Signals seem to have created and followed different philosophies in running their fame businesses, at the core of entrepreneurship, they are really some thing special. And it is great to see some great minds come together.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Bloggers - The Internet's New Story Tellers

Amanda Lenhart and Susannah Fox of Pew/Internet &American Life Project released the survey report "Bloggers - A portrait of the internet’s new storytellers", revealing some interesting statistics about Bloggers (in USA).



A telephone survey of a nationally-representative sample of bloggers has found that blogging is inspiring a new group of writers and creators to share their voices with the world.



Here are a few interesting stats about the Internet's new Story Tellers:




  • 8% (12Million) of total internet users (147Million) have a blog.

  • 39% (57Million) of Internet users read blogs.

  • 54% of the bloggers are under the age of 30

  • 84% of bloggers, blogging is a hobby, not an activity that consumes their lives.

  • 52% of bloggers say they blog mostly for themselves, not for an audience. About one-third of bloggers (32%) say they blog mostly for their audience.

  • 57% of bloggers include links to original sources either “sometimes” or “often.”

  • Only 18% of bloggers offer an RSS feed of their blog’s content.

  • Three in four bloggers (77%) told us that expressing themselves creatively was a reason that they blog.



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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

INDIA = Strategic Advantage * (Price + Innovation)

INDIA uniquely offers price advantage along with highly competent Product Innovation talent pool. Any organization can reap the benefits of the flat world if the off shoring activity is carried with a definitive strategy and understanding. Need more proof? Here are two news items from today, that explains both facets of India and its unique advantage.


Bloomberg reports IBM's Profit Gains 11% as India Expansion Trims Costs :



"International Business Machines Corp., the world's biggest computer-services provider, said second-quarter profit rose 11 percent after the company reduced expenses by shifting work to India."



Another report confirms India design firms as product innovators



"ATI is just one example of how Indian design organizations are moving beyond simple labor cost arbitrage to becoming true contributors to product innovation. In fact, this year a number of marquee brands have invested in new design operations in India or significantly expanded existing facilities. These companies include Agilent, Via, Dell, Rambus, Windriver, Wolfson, Austria Microsystems, Tensilica and Sandisk.


About 200 semiconductor companies currently operate a facility in India, and about 120 of those are into chip design (the remainder do software development).  Frost & Sullivan estimates the total design market in India is $3.25 billion, with embedded software comprising 78 percent of that figure. The research company predicts that Indian design industry services will grow to $43 billion by 2015."



If your firm's offshore efforts to India did not succeed to your expectations, consider reading an excellent and objective analysis by Martin Folwer on "Using an Agile Software process with offshore Development".



"For the last four years ThoughtWorks has operated a lab in Bangalore India to support our software development projects in North America and Europe. Traditional approaches to offshore development are based on plan-driven methodologies, but we are very firmly in the agile camp. Here I discuss our experiences and lessons learned in doing offshore agile development. So far we've discovered that we can make it work, although the benefits are still open to debate."



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The Great Debate: Net Neutrality

Excellent debate on Net Neutrality at Center for American Progress, that covers a lot of background on the issue and how legislation could have helped the cause of open Internet.



The Great Debate: Net Neutrality


In navigating the complex issue of “net neutrality,” the government should protect consumers’ rights amid a rapidly changing and dynamic Internet. Two experts agreed on that much Monday during a panel discussion hosted by the Center for American Progress, but they disagreed on how to do that without stifling innovation.


Bringing together two of the Internet’s founding figures, the Center welcomed Vint Cerf, Vice-President of Google; and Dave Farber, Distinguished Career Professor of Computer Science and Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University. Carl Malamud, the Center’s Chief Technology Officer, moderated.


Listen to audio of the event (mp3)



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Monday, July 17, 2006

Kaboodle is the best of Del.icio.us and Google Notebook

There are many social book marking websites available to users, which more or less offer similar functionality as  del.icio.us, the first and foremost that started all this social bookmarking. I have been using del.icio.us for a few months, and then I saw Google Notebook and started using it to create clips of webpages that I have been visiting, while still using del.icio.us to store bookmarks. But then I found  Kaboodle, which I think as a perfect blend of del.icio.us and Google Notebook, offering the best of both web applications and a lot more. Here is why I liked in all those three apps and why I think Kaboodle is a great social webapp.


del.icio.us is the first social book marking web application that I started using a few months ago. I liked the no-frills approach to web applications. The interface is clean and simple. There are many features that del.icio.us offer. But these are the few that I found interesting and use the most at del.icio.us.



  • Bookmark any webpage I am interested in, just by clicking on 'Post to del.icio.us' bookmarklet.

  • Add little note about that bookmark.

  • Add as many tags as possible to associate this webpage with my interests such that I can recall this webpage with one or more these tags

  • Provide all my bookmarks as RSS feed

  • I can access bookmarks saved by my friends  or people in my network

  • Search my bookmarks either using a keyword or by tag. The URLs are very friendly.


Things I thought would be useful if offered on del.icio.us:



  • Ability to add bookmarks in private mode, which other users will not be able to see.

  • Ability to add bookmarks such that only people in my network will be able to see.

  • Ability for other users to add any relevant links to the bookmark as comments


After a while, I came to know about Google Notebook, which allows to copy/extract important text/images from a webpage and store it on the web, along with notes and URL. Moreover, you can organize these excerpts in different notebooks and each notebook can have sections and subsections. Here are few things I liked the most.



  • Save the URL/bookmark a web page

  • Add little notes about that web page

  • Copy text/image excerpts from the webpage

  • Organize into different notebooks, sections and subsections

  • Ability to keep some books private and some books public.


Things I thought would be useful if offered on Google Notebook:



  • Ability to add tags

  • Ability for other users to add relevant information as comments


Recently I came across Kaboodle, which is a perfect blend of del.icio.us and Google Notebook, offering the best of both web applications and adding the basic instincts of social web applications. I am just loving Kaboodle. These are few fascinating things about Kaboodle:



  • When I click on bookmarklet to add to kaboodle, Kaboodle does some thing that the other two apps are not doing. It extracts importants portions of the webpage automatically along with URL. It allows the user to edit the notes the way he/she likes if the automatically extracted information does not serve the purpose.

  • User can organize the bookmarks or web clips into different notebooks called pages

  • User can keep a page private or share with public

  • Other users can comment and add any relevant information to your page. Which is another good aspect of social web application.

  • All bookmarks in a given page (book) are shown on a single page, which enables comaring different bookmarks, particually useful if you shopping for stuff.

  • You can add tags for each of the bookmarks.

  • Feeds available for each notebook seperately.

  • Almost all features available in both del.icio.us and Google notebook are pretty much available.


I found that Kaboodle is a great blend of del.icio.us and Google Notebook offering a whole new experience of social bookmarking and social notes.


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HP's memory spots


Memory spot, a tiny microchip  by HP will let you store massive amounts of data. You can stick it anywhere you want.  And it can transmit data wirelessly.


Mercury News reports in Is this the next hotspot?



This microchip has an adhesive back, so it can be pressed like a sticker to the surface of just about anything. Put it on a photo to carry a voice recording of the person featured in the 4-by-6 glossy print. Stick it on passports so officials can examine images of travelers' fingerprints and iris patterns. Add it to soldiers' dog tags and diabetics' medical-alert bracelets so emergency responders can view their full medical records and make life-saving decisions.


The ``memory spots,'' as HP calls the microchips, are probably two to five years away from being sold on the market, if HP decides to run with this new technology.


The memory spots are similar in some ways to the more simplistic radio-frequency identification tags. But they are far smarter and more secure: They can store more than 250 times as much data as RFID, transmit data more than 20 times faster and encrypt it, sidestepping many of the privacy concerns over RFID tags.


HP emphasizes its budding technology is meant to complement, not compete with, RFID tags. The equivalent of electronic bar codes, RFID tags are expected to help track 1.3 billion postal packages, pallets of inventory, animals and other objects this year.



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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Googleplex Architecture

MetropolisMag has an excellent article 'Behind the Glass Curtain' on Googleplex architecture, Google’s Mountain View, California, headquarters. There are some interesting aspects of design in Googleplex architecture. Bright colors, book shelves on the corridors, electric outlets on steps ... and so on.


One other thing stands out though, and I still don't understand why each user's desk has two bigger monitors? (images from the above original article)





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Business Week: A ray of Hope for Linux desktop

A Ray of Hope for Desktop Linux by Steve Hamm at Businessweek reports that IBM is releasing Notes communications and collaboration software designed to run on Linux, and wishing that its (Notes) 125 Million users world wide may think of switching to Linux desktop.


I agree, that it is just a ray of hope.  IBM might put its all marketing muscle behind it. But I doubt this would be any reason for any user to switch from Windows desktop to Linux desktop. Linux does lots of things better in the servers arena. Not desktop, Yet.  If you have seen or played around with the latest Windows Vista or Windows Live offerings, I seriously doubt any user may even think about it. I currently use Notes, and if you compare with Microsoft Exchange and its pleasing user interface and ease of use, it is still a long way to go before it even catches up.


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Atlast Yahoo and MSN Messengers can talk

The long wait was over. The new beta versions of Yahoo Messenger  and MSN Messenger ( aka Windows Live Messenger)  can talk to each other. Now one can talk to buddies on MSN messenger right from Yahoo messenger. And vice versa. You no longer have to create, keep or maintain user Id on both networks, unless you have something else to do.


Visit Yahoo Messenger and/or MSN Messenger ( aka Windows Live Messenger) and install the latest beta versions.


I was so unhappy about the closed interfaces of Messenger applications (Open-Closed Messenger Services - Hyprocricy at its best 29th August, 2005) and wish that all these Messenger application can talk to each other.  I was delighted to see the announcement (Yahoo and MSN Messenger Deal 12th October 2005) of Yahooand MSN Messenger deal to make these two messengers work together. It was almost 8 months, but finally Yahoo and MSN kept their promise, to open up atleast between each other. For whatever reasons. Thanks anyways.


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Friday, July 14, 2006

RailsConf2006 : Key note videos

Videos of key note speakers from RailsConf 2006 are available at here. Currently only three of the Key Note presentations are available.



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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Is there a new Browser?

A brief look at the 'Browser Statistics' at www.w3schools.com, all browsers except IE7 have been loosing their respective market shares as of June 2006, compared with their market share in Jan, 2006 respectively.


One can clearly see that IE7 has moved up a little from 0.2% in Jan 2006 to 1.6% in June, 2006, all other browsers have been loosing their respective shares. Firefox is there without any major gain. It has 25.0% in Jan, 2006 and stayed at 24.9% in June with little fluctuations on either side in between. So there is literally no or little growth in the Firefox users. While Mozilla, Netscape, Opera, IE5 and IE6 have lost little of their market shares.











































































2006 IE7 IE6 IE5 Ffox Moz N O
June 1.6% 58.2% 4.3% 24.9% 2.2% 0.3% 1.4%
May 1.1% 57.4% 4.5% 25.7% 2.3% 0.3% 1.5%
April 0.7% 58.0% 5.0% 25.2% 2.5% 0.4% 1.5%
March 0.6% 58.8% 5.3% 24.5% 2.4% 0.5% 1.5%
February 0.5% 59.5% 5.7% 25.1% 2.9% 0.4% 1.5%
January 0.2% 60.3% 5.5% 25.0% 3.1% 0.5% 1.6%

Is there a new Browser in the market that is stealing these small portions of market share? The stats report indicates that they have not shown anything with less than 0.5% market share. So it seems there are multiple browsers that are gaining some ground little by little somewhere in the world.


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Monday, July 10, 2006

Indian Startup IMIMobile get $10M funding from Pequot

Another Indian startup, IMIMobile gets $10M funding.  Silicon India reports



IMImobiles has received $10 million funding from Pequot Ventures, a technology venture capital firm.


IMImobile, an India-based developer of wireless data and voice technology platforms and content aggregation services for mobile operators. IMImobile will use the new proceeds to further consolidate its leading position in India, as well as fund additional support and expansion for its global customer base.



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Sunday, July 9, 2006

Why We Don't Do It : Strategy and The Fat Smoker by David Maister

I loved this ChangeThis manifesto, 'Strategy & the Fat Smoker' by David Maister (widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading authorities on the management of professional service firms).



Much of what professional firms do in the name of strategic planning is a complete waste of time, no more effective than individuals making New Year’s resolutions.


The reasons are the same in both situations. Personally and professionally, we already know what we should do: lose weight, give up smoking, exercise more. In business, strategic plans are also stuffed with familiar goals: build client relationships, act like team players, provide fulfilling, motivating careers.


We want the benefits of these things. We know what to do, we know why we should do it and we know how to do it. Yet we don’t change, most of us, as individuals or as businesses.


The problem is that many change efforts are based on the assumption that all you have to do is to explain to people that their life could be better, be convincing that the goals are worth going for and show them how to do it.


This is patently false. If this were true, there would be no drug addicts in the world, no alcoholics, no bad marriages: “Oh, I see, it’s not good for me? Ah, well then, I’ll stop, of  course!” What nonsense!


...


The primary reason we do not work at areas in which we know we need to improve is that the rewards (and pleasures) are in the future; the disruption, discomfort and discipline needed to get there are immediate. 


To reach our goals, we must first change our lifestyle, our daily habits, now. Then we have to have the courage to keep up the new habits and not yield to all the old familiar temptations. Then, and only then, we get the benefits.



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Thought Garage Demographics

Microsoft's AdCenter Lab put out  a service as part of a demo that can predict the demographics of your website readers.



You can use adCenter technology to predict a customer’s age,
gender, and other demographic information according to his or her  online behavior—that is, from search queries and webpage views.



With curiosity I checked Thought Garage blog, here is what it says.


Thought Garage Demographics


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India's mobile commerce startup PayMate gets $5M from Kleiner Perkins and Sherpalo


Link to the posting at GigaOm


Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers and Sherpalo Ventures (a venture vehicle of Google-backer, Ram Shriram) have decided that India is the next big market for mobile commerce–using the cellphone as a connected wallet to buy and sell stuff.


With over 100 million Indian wireless subscribers—-more than double the number of the land phones in the country–they could be right. The two firms are investing over $5 million in Paymate, a mobile commerce company, a start-up backed created by the founders of Coruscant Tec, a Mumbai-based company that powers mobile content, commerce and other data applications that land on Indian phones.



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India test fires Agni-III nuclear missile - Why and What for?

On sunday, the 9th July, 2006 India test fired Agni-III, a long range 3500 KM ballistic missile that can carry nuclear war heads.


I don't understand why India is still going strong on missiles with nuclear war heads. One reason, it can not afford, it is still one of the poor countries with limited infrastructure. If India has to prove its tech merits, building a nuclear war head is definitely not the way to go. It is definitely brutal intention for India or any other nation preparing nuclear war heads that it is preparing to kill people. More people in a single shot.


Forbes news item point out that recently New Delhi and Washington reached a landmark deal in March to lift sanctions on nuclear technology.



New Delhi and Washington reached a landmark deal in March that will lift sanctions on India's access to civilian nuclear technology.



The question that baffles me is what part of Agni-III is civilian? For sure, it can kill civilians of some other country who intend to attack with similar malicious thoughts. I can not discount having strong security measures, particularly in the wake of militants across the world. But building and firing a nuclear missile, without any doubt, will kill far more civilians than militants.


In that aspect, US is the country with most brutal intentions. It has the largest supply of nuclear arms, and any other kind of sophisticated armery. And it is the most hypocritic country whose ideals are defined by opportunity and desperation. A few years ago, despite the fact that it had largest supply of nuclear war heads, it put economic sanctions on India to test nuclear war heads. Now US needs India as its strategic economic partner, so it lifts the sanctions. Is there any principle that US has acted upon? I don't understand if there is any. In my naive world, it is pure greed and opportunity that is driving this part of the world. If it likes, you are free to go. If not, you have all kinds of economic sanctions.


I can't appreciate indigenous indian R&D efforts in making this missile. They are great efforts spent in an evil and lousy mission. With that amount of money spent on this missile, India would have given lives to millions of poor children for sure. With this missile, it can never a save a child, but take lives of children on the other side of the border.


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Saturday, July 8, 2006

Software is fast becoming a commodity

Dharmesh Shah at OnStartups.com wrote an interesting article 'Code is not a commodity: Why software is not like soybeans' arguing that Software is not a commodity. You can read the full article here.


I fundamentally and totally disagree with argument. It seems to be an imminent confusion in differentiating the means from end. It is not uncommon for software developers to be frightened and threatened by the notion of 'Software being commoditized'. But unfortunately it is true that software is commoditized, very fast.


To understand with any kind of clarity it pays to see how we define a commodity. Wiki explains the commodity as follows on its page for Commodity:  ( I took the simplified version to avoid any confusion. You can read the whole discussion on wiki for better understanding.)



...electricity (most users of electric power are only concerned with overall energy consumption; only a minority of users are concerned with the quality and technical details of voltage and frequency deviations, phase imbalance, etc.),...


In the original and simplified sense, commodities were things of value, of uniform quality, that were produced in large quantities by many different producers; the items from each different producer are considered equivalent. It is the contract and this underlying standard that define the commodity, not any quality inherent in the product. One can reasonably say that food commodities, for example, are defined by the fact that they substitute for each other in recipes, and that one can use the food without having to look at it too closely.



So in summary, what makes commodities



  1. things of certain value to the customer

  2. of uniform quality ( please read carefully, it is uniform quality, not SAME level of quality)

  3. produced in large quantities

  4. produced by many different producers

  5. it is the contract or function that define commodity not any quality inherent in the product

  6. ability to substitute


Now we have a common understanding about what can be treated as a commodity and what not. Let us discuss about software and the arguments (+ comments) in the original article. Keep in mind the following sample applications: database, OS, a word processor, a blog application and more complex ERP application for the rest of discussion.



  1. Software should provide certain value to the customer. Yes, most software does add value to the customer. The focus here is on the value it is providing, not how it is implemented. From a user perspective, it really does not matter how the developers implemented it(programming language, design internals and so on), only value it creates matters. While every program written by a developer is an expression of art, for the user it is not. So as long as the value it provides is uniform, it is a commodity once it satisfies all other conditions.

  2. Uniform quality not EXACT SAME QUALITY: Most software performs the required function with an uniform quality. Think about any application that is available in the world for any given function, like word processing, it works in a uniform manner with reasonable quality.

  3. Produced in large quantities: This is little immaterial to software, since once the software is developed, it is easy to produce the same software in large quantities. All it takes is a disc copy for most.

  4. Produced by many different producers: This is the most important point of the discussion. Any software solution can be produced by different companies, different programmers from across the world with reasonable quality with uniform function. Take database for example, almost all databases oracle,sql,mysql, postgre all provide the database function with reasonable quality, though they are produced by different companies and programmers all over the world.

  5. To be a commodity, it is not important to consider the quality of the function, but just the function. Because, not everybody wants highest quality of any product for that matter. Not every body needs a high resolution 44" lcd monitor. For most a 15" CRT monitor is just fine. The function is more important. Do you say LCD monitors are a commodity? or not. Because they are.

  6. Ability to substitute : This is very easy one. You can easily substitute any database server with minimal or no changes. In some cases, it is not so easy, this is not because the other product does not offer the uniform function, but because of lazy programmers who don't understand what an abstraction is about. One of the readers on the original post mentions about Nike shoes and its differentiated quality. I think that is not true. If am an athlete and want to buy shoes for jogging, nike, adidas, reebok, new balance and whole lot of other shoe companies offer reasonable quality shoes for almost the same price. The price difference, if any you pay for a nike's shoes is for the brand not for the quality. Lance Armstrong changed the brand after the cancer therapy. Many power basket ball and football for that matter any player changes his shoe brand, every time his sponsor changes. Doesn't that tell you that they all are of same quality?


One may argue that software built for a customer is so special and customized, so you can not commoditize this special application. You are wrong. If you follow building block approach, most applications in this world can be built using pre-existing frameworks, components and off-the shelf software applications with little integration and coding. Thesedays, most applications are opening up more and more interfaces for easy integration. Take any application you are building you are already using those building blocks. You are only applying a glue in between to deliver the business function. C++ STL, vast Java libraries, .NET framework libraries, Boost C++ libraries, specialized components from firms like Infragistics, 10s of Middleware, Messaging solutions, Databases, Topcoders, and 1000s of frameworks for PHP...and so on. Today, if yopu ask a consulting company to build a blogging platform, they might build a wonderful platform from scratch in 1 year, but I can just download movableType and start using it right away. If someone says, no my application is so special, please go and read concepts of abstraction. You will immediately realize that most part of the solution is already available as part of libraries and frameworks or in other applications. You just need to apply the glue to hold them together to solve the problem. Many consultants and software firms disagree. But I understand, why they say so. Update: Ning let you create simple social apps without any programming background. CogHead soon will let you create even complex business web applications without any programming background.


Software programming  is so commoditized. You may argue this is not true. Let me ask you one question. If we have to build a house, how many people with a masters degree in architecture are needed. One or two for a reasonable house. How many interior decorators. One or two again. How many workers with a degree in construction engineering you need to construct the actual house. None. Once the house is designed and material is available, all you need is experienced masons/construction workers to build the house. So in software development. We need one or two excellent designers, one or two excellend architects, one or two DBAs and a whole bunch of software programmers, who just know how to produce the code as per the design.  And the whole point is that this entire team is so replaceable, that makes it a commodity software development team.


Software is believed to not a commodity, because;


Software developers tend to think software as a very customized solution to each customer. That is not true for 99% of the software applications and 99% of any product out there in the world. Let me explain my understanding with a simple realworld example. 


We want to a build a house. So we hired a firm that can build houses. The firm asked its architect to design the house. Design is ready. To build the house as per the design, the firm started working on preparing the material required for the house. They manufactured a single brick wall in the shape of the architects design with place holders to keep doors and windows. They manufactured windows and doors exactly as designed but as single pieces. House is finally ready as per the spec. After a few years, the house owner decided to change the window position slightly for better air inflow. Oh my god, you can't do it, because the entire wall is a single brick. So, the firm designed another single brick wall with the updated position of the window. This way, every house is so special, and the firm has to build every house seperately.


But imagine, if the firm created bricks in a reasonably small sizes so that you can build any shape of the wall with the same kind of bricks, not only you can build most buildings with the same brick but it is also easy to modify the shape with little reconstruction. Same goes with the windows, doors, safety systems, water supply, electrical wiring and so on.


Now  understand the key differences here, between the two approaches. One follows a single customized system approach while the other follows modular, flexible and evolutionary approach. Despite everyday applications, most of the software, even today, is built as in the first approach. A very specific solution that fits only for a single customer. For another customer, man you need another 2 year contract to build the same again.


But this is changing very fast. We are getting more and more generic frameworks and libraries. Most often, pre-built applications. So software is fast becoming a commodity.


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Thursday, July 6, 2006

RSS Marketing - Is it just hype? or the next best channel?

At my workplace on the intranet, there was a poll yesterday asking whether they use RSS. Various options were given, like 'Love the conveniece of RSS', ' planning to use' etc etc and final one was 'What is rss?'. To my surprise, 71% of people voted for the big question, 'What is RSS?' and only about 4% said they love the convenience of RSS. There were around 700 votes total over a period of 2 days, and the % of 'what is rss?' always almost stood around that 70% mark throughout the poll.


Baffled by this low percentage of users in a IT company where people spend most of their time on the computers, I searched  for RSS stats in google to find out the figures among common users. I could not see any recent stats in year 2006. But I found some interesting stats at Rss Diary post 'A challenge to the RSS Industry: RSS stats unacceptable':



Let's simply take a look at some of the more recent stats released by various research companies and others, pertaining to the adoption and use of RSS.



It seems that no one can really agree on how many people are really using RSS, knowingly or unknowingly.



And there is a link to Yahoo RSS White paper 'RSS - Crossing into the mainstream' published in Oct, 2005 says that only 4% of users knowingly use RSS feeds. However there are about 28% people use RSS without even knowing that they are using RSS.


Despite this surprisingly low percentage of RSS-aware users, many companies are planning to invest lots of money on RSS as their prime marketing channel. Another blog post on Rss Diary points to a supplement released by AdAge, Ad Age Interactive Marketing & Media Fact Pack 2006 [PDF], points out that



RSS is currently used or is planned to be used within the next 12 months by 63% of consumer product marketers, 65% media and communications marketers, 37% retail marketers, 37% financial services marketers and 38% equipment and tech marketers.



Looking at such a low percentage of users that know about RSS and use RSS, and such a high percentage of firms planning to invest in RSS for marketing, I am wondering whether RSS is a hype or really the next best channel to market their respective products. Looking at the figures, I have no clue.


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Upbeat India - Entrepreneurial dreams becoming reality

More news items and articles are pouring in, indicating the upbeat trend for startups and innovation in India. We will definitely see more new coverage as venture capitalists are either travelling regularly to India or have already camped in India.



  • Time magazine recently discussed in its coverpage story, "India Inc. - Why the world’s biggest democracy is the next great economic super power - and what it means for America".

  • And there is a USA today's news story, "Immigrants from India spread business success to homeland".

  • Yesterday I saw an article on silicon beat 'Ram Shriram: Things looking bubbly in India'. This article has links to many other resources talking about venture funding movingt to India.



".. Venture capital firms and private investors last year poured $2.2 billion into 146 start-ups in India -- compared with $1.7 billion invested in 71 deals in 2004, reports USA Today, citing data from TSJ Media's Venture Intelligence India Roundup,.."




  • Read about some new startups in web2.0 space at http://www.webyantra.net/ where Amit ranjan is profiling Indian web products & services.


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Wednesday, July 5, 2006

IE7 Support of HTML+TIME - Do we need it in the first place?

On IE Blog there was a post 'Time, Time, Time, see what’s become of  me..'. posted on 7th April 2006, that i happened to read this evening. The post was asking users to respond to a series of questions on HTML+TIME.



How do you currently use HTML + TIME? Have you seen the Introduction to HTML+TIME article? What do you think is the coolest feature? What are your usage patterns? Can you point me to your sites or other sites that you know of that use HTML + TIME? Any input you can provide would be greatly appreciated!



I could not resist to give my feedback, as I have used HTML+TIME for a while and have been searching a viable alternative to create playlists that can be played across most, if not all, media players. For some reason, Peter and the IE team decided to block comments on the blog. So I sent an email to the IE team blog. Hope it will be read. But here is what I wanted to tell the IE team. I am posting here my email.



Hi IE Team,

I am responding to your blog post "Time, Time, Time, see what’s become of me..." regarding TIME+HTML. I have been using HTML+TIME for about 6 months. Here are my inputs. Hope might help.



I have been using HTML+TIME mostly for creating presentations based on playlists (audio + video) and images. Its quite easy, as I don't have to learn new things but start using the new tags in my HTML pages. But here are few things that are so painful and drove me to stop using HTML+TIME:



  1. Currently I can not use media played by other players like Quick/Realtime. I can only play media that can be played by windows media player. Though the documentation says that it is possible to embed other players with HTML+TIME, it does not work somehow. 

  2. If I have a SMIL file, it can not be directly played by windows media player. The same SMIL file can be played for Quick/Real. I had to create asx file based on SMIL to play in WMP.

  3. No other browser supports this HTML+TIME, so I can not use it web pages meant for wider audience.


You guys may be a great team implementing SMIL concepts to HTML first which no other browser supports but Windows Media player does not support SMIL while other players support. I don't know why Microsoft does not support what others support and support what others don't support? As a user, I would like to see SMIL file directly supported by Windows Media player. That will help a lot since I can use the same SMIL presentation on any player. And least priority is for HTML+TIME supported  by IE to include support for all media players in HTML+TIME.


Comments have been disabled on the blog, so I had to write an email. Hope it will be read.



HTML+TIME or SMIL are not just meant for what I am using for. But this is just a simple use of the concept. While technically, HTML+TIME is not proprietary, since it is kind of an extension to use SMIL concepts to HTML right in the browser and the fact that HTML+TIME was mentioned as a note at w3c, practically it is proprietary in the sense that it is only supported in IE. The blog also hinting that IE team is not sure whether anybody is using it. Neither IE nor Windows media player support basic SMIL. That makes it difficult for anybody to create a simple playlist that can be played on WMP, Real and Quick, the most widely used players. If SMIL is supported in Windows media player, then we don't even need HTML+TIME support in browser.


Here is a list of various formats to create playlists, compiled by Lucas Gonze. You can see that, no format is being followed by all major players. Either they have a proprietary format or proprietary extension to a common format. We talk about a lot and expect open systems. But in reality most software systems are so closed, and offer little or no interoperability. 


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Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Cool links on Web2.0 Applications - 'The Future of Web Apps' summit

Podcasts from The Future of Web Apps, a 'One-day conference focusing on the development technology you'll be using tomorrow' organized by Carson Workshops (Feb,2006) are available here. Don't miss the wiki for the summit hosted on socialtext, which has notes on sessions.


MP3 Links:



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Guy Kawasaki : The Art of the Start Presentation at TieCON 2006

If you are interested in Guy Kawasaki's 'The Art of The Start', here is a presentation given by Guy at TiECon 2006.



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Indian startups to Watch

Red Herring profiled 8 Indian startups that are worth watching. Unlike buying too much into Web2.0 social applications else where in the world, these startups are focusing on technology areas like semiconductor design, biotech, mobile technology and consumer Internet. Not a surprise, keeping in view the technology savvy Indian entrepreneurs.


You can read more at Red Herring's web site , 'Eight Indian Startups to Watch'.   Here is the list, excerpted from that article:




  1. Ascendus Technologies: Online training platform for Business Executives.

  2. Converge Labs : Markets M-Bay, a Mobile Commerce platform that allows users to buy from their mobiles.

  3. Drishtee : Help Entreprenuers in Rural India by providing internet kiosks and train them to operate their business of offering internet to local people. Similar to Public telephone service in private owned booths.

  4. HelloSoft : Uses a commoditized processor rather than expensive specialized microprocessors to power handheld devices.

  5. IBS : A software services company specializes in niche area,  Transportation and logistics.

  6. NowPos Online Services : Offers free voice mail over the internet, aimed at users in developing countries.

  7. Ocimum Bio Solutions : Sells Software Tracking tools to research labs, contract research (Labs on hire) and supply of micro arrays.

  8. Softjin Technologies : Provides custom designed Electronic Design Automation tools.



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Monday, July 3, 2006

How are you feeling today? Find about the world at WeFeelFine.org

Find how the world is feeling at this minute at We Feel Fine.  Here is how you can know the feelings of the world at http://www.WeFeelFine.org, explained in their mission:



We Feel Fine is an exploration of human emotion on a global scale.


Since August 2005, We Feel Fine has been harvesting human feelings from a large number of weblogs. Every few minutes, the system searches the world's newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases "I feel" and "I am feeling". When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the "feeling" expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.). Because blogs are structured in largely standard ways, the age, gender, and geographical location of the author can often be extracted and saved along with the sentence, as can the local weather conditions at the time the sentence was written. All of this information is saved



Choose Age, Gender, location, weather or date on the panel and find out how people are donig. Very interesting.


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Cool links on Boot Strapping a web application

Ten Rules for Web startups by Evan Williams, the CEO of ODEO. He was also the co-founder of Pyra Labs that created Blogger.


Signal vs. Noise blog at 37Signals posted a small Biz 101 series based on their experience bootstrapping the most popular 37Signals web applications. It pays to listen to people who did it. Here are the links:



  1. How to get started

  2. Cash flow basics

  3. No one starts with a master piece

  4. Tips for increasing sales and

  5. Digg is your marketing secret weapon


The Cost of Bootstrapping Your App: The Figures Behind DropSend (part one) RyanC 06 Mar 2006 is an excellent primer to understand what it takes to bootstrap a web application, and exactly how they did it.You can listen to the MP3 and/or grab the notes of the presentation. 


Full time freelancing: 10 things learned in 180 days by Cameron Moll. Not specific to web application, but interesting insights from his Freelancing, I believe quite useful and related to any startup aswell.



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Saturday, July 1, 2006

National TV meets Web2.0 Video Sharing

TV and Internet occupy most part of today's favorite pass time. No doubt. At any moment, most of us will be watching one of the screens. It is the age old bigger version (TV) or the new craze smaller version(computer screen).  These days, you can watch TV on your computer and you can get some of the internet content on TV (IPTV).

It does not stop there. One medium talks about the other and give all possible publicity to each other. Kinda, redefines what a synergy stands for. You see TV shows being discussed in blogs, emails an discussion forums. And you also see TV shows discussing about what is happening on the internet.  Recent addition, I watched last night, CBS Inside Weekend Viral Videos section where the show discusses the most famous videos shared on the internet. No surprise. In this edition, the top story on the Viral Videos section is the  video compilation of Shakira's fans dancing to the tunes of  "Hips don't lie". Watch the video here.

Very soon we can see a section in the main line news, called 'Today's top Blogs' or Today top pics from Flickr....
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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...