Monday, January 31, 2005

Daily Cartoon - 01/30/05


http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007550.gif

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e-video or EVDO ?!

If you send out a correspondent who don't know a thing about technology, or maybe have writers who are totally clueless, this is what is bound to happen.

You wouldn't know the slightest difference between e-video and EVDO.

...

Reliance executives added that the service provider was continuing its testing of Wi-Fi and WiMAX platforms, while the e-video platform was ready for launch.

“The e-video facility is already available in certain campuses in Mumbai. We are waiting for the Department of Telecommunication to allot spectrum to launch this service,” said a company executive.

...


Link to the original article.

Or maybe they were indeed talking about e-video. One would never know ! :)

Tennis Tennis ...

After watching quite some tennis on TV for the past few years, I've always dreamt of being the next Pete Sampras. Ok now, that's a very big stretch :)

I'd tried my hand at tennis y'day. My colleagues-cum-classmates have been playing for a few days and have been asking me to give it a shot for some time now. So, finally on Saturday nite I managed to "borrow" a teammate's racquet, when he wasn't around ;-) Sunday morning saw me wake up at 5.30am to try and give tennis a shot.

We finally turned up at Villivakkam (Padi) court at around 6.40am and spent about the next hour in me trying to get the hang of the game and the racquet, when our court was almost unceremoniously invaded by a big bunch of kids who wanted to get their regular practice ! With hardly an hour of first-time-practice, that'll probably be the shortest span of time anyone took to get into the international arena :)

The Villivakkam ground has about 5-6 courts and all of them are packed in the morning with kids getting their practice. It was nice to see kids who were hardly the size of the racquet trying to learn the game. A few years ago, tennis was a very costly game. Now, kids can get coaching from as little as Rs.500 per month (at Villivakkam grounds) to Rs.1500 per month (at Nungambakkam courts). The Rs.500 one sounds cheaper and more interesting.

I'm thinking that badminton might be a better choice for me given that I've played it a lot in the past and courts aren't so far away from my house (if I can find any that aren't so crowded). The tennis court was about 8-10kms away.

Am now ruing the lack of the digital camera once more. I cud have got a few nice shots. Maybe I'll end up purchasing it during this vacation.

List of things to purchase - sort of a dream wish list :)

Digital Camera
Camera Phone
Super duper desktop computer
Ultra Kewl Laptop (definitely not going to happen)
Home theatre system (or at least a decent DVD player to begin with)

For the next few weeks ...

postings on my blog are going to be limited since I'm on vacation and probably travelling a bit, and that too with little or no access to net for some time in between. Damn, do I miss a laptop and ubiqutous broadband connection ;-)

Enjoy and keep me posted on happenings. I'll check email occasionally.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Daily Cartoon - 01/29/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20050112205629.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007549.gif

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Saturday, January 29, 2005

Daily Cartoon - 01/28/05

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http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007538.gif

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Broadband: India - Motorola in talks to offer WiMax

Global communications giant Motorola is currently engaged in talks with all major telecom service providers (including the state owned units) in the country to offer its WiMAX platform.

...

“We are conducting trail runs with the six major telecom operators in India, both CDMA and GSM, to offer ‘Canopy’ broadband services. We expect service providers to extend this WiMAX to customers by October," Dennis Stipati, director, international sales, Motorola’s canopy, wireless broadband products, told Business Standard. Indian telecom operators are currently undertaking test runs of Canopy’s WiMAX product.

Motorola has placed India amongst the four ‘top target markets’ along with the United States, China and Western Europe for setting up wireless broadband infrastructure for telecom operators.

...


Complete story here.

Friday, January 28, 2005

That's the kind of broadband that I'd like to have ...

8Mbit Broadband to Become Available in the UK

UK Online is offering 8Mbit broadband service to the UK. The upstream is 400K, and there's a monthly download cap of 500GB, but at 40 pounds per month, plus 50 installation and a free wireless router in the package, that has to be among the best deals on offer from anyone.

At about Rs.3200 (by Indian standards), that's indeed a bit costly. However for the kind of package, it's a steal given that I currently pay Rs.800 for a punitive 64kbps download stream that *isn't* open 24x7 ! I'd give an arm and a leg for such a steal :)

Source: /.

Endangered Gizmo list ...

/. talks about EFF's endangered list of gizmos. Coincidentally, Chandramohan pointed this to me (via email) about a week ago, rightly guessing that it might be something that interests me :)

Now, that's one thing to remember when you are giving a presentation ...

Never leave your IM on :) Or else this is what will happen to you ! :)

Truly amazed at internet's power

I typed my name Sudhir Parasuram in here and it immediately identified me as a consultant to Cisco Systems, Inc.

Continues to prove what the Internet and information gathering tools can do !!

Courtesy: Tool info from Om Malik

Daily Cartoon - 01/27/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20050146468128.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007537.gif

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India too dangerous for Al Qaeda ?

I normally don't venture into politics on my blog except when it is in humor or the rare sheer desperation. This time, it's the humor part.

Osama bin Laden has announced that Al Qaeda will not attack India. The reason: it's too dangerous for his terrorists.

In a 12-minute videotaped interview, aired by the little-known Dubai-based Al Nakhli channel last Friday, the tired-looking terror-lord is seen standing on a parched, rubble-strewn plain along with a masked man holding an AK-56 assault rifle. In the backdrop looms what appears to be a bombed-out house. Speaking in a monotone, and with frequent pauses to wave a fist or gaze at the sky, Laden says that he and his followers will continue to target 'evil' Western nations and their interests across the world. “But we will shun India,” he declares. “India is a land already destroyed by its own leaders, its people terrorized beyond our reach.”

In Langley, US anti-terror specialists have tentatively identified Laden's masked companion as Al Kali Feroz Sulfait, an expert in chemical detonators. In Delhi, security agencies say the taped interview appears to be genuine. “Judging from the bombed-out appearance of the rocky slope in the background, the interview could have taken place somewhere in the lawless northwestern districts of Pakistan,” remarked a spokesperson for RAW. However, other officials expressed doubts, albeit off the record. “That interview could have taken place in the equally lawless mining districts ruled by Pappu Yadav in Bihar,” remarked a senior Intelligence Bureau official on conditions of anonymity. “Or perhaps, in a granite quarry in Bhai Thakur's Bhayandar, in suburban Mumbai. My personal feeling, though, is that the tape was made somewhere amidst the bleak and rocky Delhi-Gurgaon badlands. That derelict building in the backdrop has all the unmistakable marks of a freshly-constructed DDA apartment block.”

Cynical? Undoubtedly so. Indeed, it is precisely this couldn't-care-a-damn attitude about India's security that distresses bin Laden. A few excerpts from the interview:

Q: Why have you spared India from attacks by Al Qaeda?

Laden: (with great bitterness). “One cannot set fire to ash. The Indians are deadened to terror. India is a land where the most dreadful atrocities are being carried out on the people daily, not by terrorists but by the government itself. Al Qaeda has tried to strike India, yes…but we failed.

Q: Could you clarify?

Laden: For instance, some years ago we set off a small improvised explosive device and sent a train off a bridge in Kadalundi, in Kerala. Our cadres claimed credit, but what was the Indian response? The railway authorities blamed the disaster on a sudden cyclonic storm that swept in from the sea and blew the train off the bridge -- even though the event took place on a calm, cloudless night! As for the media and general public, from the very start they held the railways responsible for the event. They said the bridge was 125 years old and had given way under the weight of the train; they said corrupt railway officials had swallowed all the money meant for the maintenance of the tracks; some even alleged that the locomotive wheels had fallen off because they were fakes, the original wheels having been stolen and sold to scrap dealers. The more Al Qaeda tried claiming credit for the operation, the less credence was given to our claims. People went to the extent of saying the Indian government itself was putting out 'false' claims by Al Qaeda to deflect attention from its own failures…(shakes head in disgust)

...


Visit http://www.sulekha.com/expressions/articledesc.asp?cid=307517 for the entire article.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

IIRC

Sometime towards the end of the previous year, I sent the following mail to a mailing list

IIRC, a driving school should charge you around Rs.1500-1800 for teaching 4 wheeler + 4 wheeler and 2 wheeler license.

For just a license, it should be less than Rs.1050. Try asking a couple of schools too.

Cheers,
Sudhir.P


IIRC (in the above) meant "If I Recall Correctly".

I've, however, received one too many emails asking me for the location of the IIRC driving school :)

Daily Cartoon - 01/26/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20051830840127.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007536.gif

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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Daily Cartoon - 01/25/05

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Woohooo ! I'm gonna get rich ...

Found this in my email box y'day ! :)

FROM:BARRISTER DAVID WILLIAMS
DAVID CHANBERS & ASSOCIATE
EMAIL:dwreach02@myway.com

ATTENTION:THE PRESIDENT/MANAGING DIRECTOR.

DEAR SIR/MADAM,

I AM BARRISTER DAVID WILLIAMS,PRINCIPAL PARTNER OF THE ABOVE FIRM. I HAVE BEEN INSTRUCTED BY ONE OF MY CLIENT, TO SEARCH FOR A CREDIBLE PERSON OR COMPANY OVERSEAS FOR A JOINT BUSINESS VENTURE. MY CLIENT RELIABLY CONFIDED IN ME THAT HE HAS A HUGE SUM OF MONEY WHICH HE LEGITIMATELY INHERITED FROM HIS LATE PARENT'S. BEIGN A YOUNG MAN WITHOUT ANY BUSINESS ACUMEN, HE HAS NO OPTION THAN TO MANDATE ME TO SOLICIT FOR A COMPETENT PERSON OR CO-OPERATION THAT WILL MANAGE THIS FUND FOR HIM.

HAVING GONE THROUGH YOUR PROFILE I DECIDED TO CONTACT YOU, HOPING THAT YOU WILL FIND THIS PROPOSAL INTERESTING. PLEASE ON YOUR CONFIRMATION OF THIS MESSAGE AND INDICATING YOUR INTEREST I SHALL LINK YOU TO MY CLIENT FOR MORE DETAILS, ENDEAVOUR TO LET ME KNOW YOUR DECISION THAN KEEPING ME WAITING. IT IS IMPORTANT TO LET YOU KNOW THAT IF YOU HELP US TRANSFER THIS FUND TO YOUR COUNTRY AND CLEAR IT, YOU HAVE A PERCENTAGE.

KINDLY INCLUDE YOUR TELEPHONE AND FAX NUMBER FOR EASY COMMUNICATION.

THANKS FOR YOUR UNDERSTANDING AND I WILL TELL YOU MORE ABOUT THIS FUND ON THE RECEIPT OF YOUR REPLY. IF YOU ARE NOT INTERESTED, KINDLY PARDON ME FOR CONTACTING YOU.

THANKS AND REMAIN BLESSED.

YOURS FAITHFULLY,
BARRISTER DAVID WILLIAMS

PLEASE GET BACK TO ME THROUGH THE E-MAIL ADDRESS ABOVE

Mit WEB.DE FreePhone mit hoechster Qualitaet ab 0 Ct./Min.
weltweit telefonieren! http://....

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Google Adsense and me ...

I don't know if I'd mentioned this earlier: I had earlier almost wanted to try out Google Adsense on my blog but stopped short of implemeting it, for reasons of tax implications and the feeling of trying to make money off my readers.

Recently, the urge to give back to Google (Google Ads gives them money, and they give me some part of it) dominated my mind to such an extent that I did apply for a Google Ads account. I filled up all the necessary stuff and sent the form out for approval, and my site was approved in a short time.

However, my earlier concerns caused me to stop in my tracks once more and I didn't put up the ads in my page. After a few days, Google (surprisingly) sent me a note saying that I had not yet applied the Google Ads code I asked for and wanted to know if I needed any assistance.

I replied to them asking if I could get a version of Google Ads that didn't give me the money (and if necessary indicate the Ads Banner in such a manner), I just wanted them to have it all ! How generous of me ! ;-) They said "no, that ain't possible, we have to give some of it to you". I wrote back to them asking if I could automatically donate it to some charity (without ever getting the money) and they again said "no, we don't have such a mechanism at the moment".

I really wish I could give back something to them for all the wonderful things that Google is providing for me, and without putting their Ads *and* getting some part of it, I can't appear to do this. And, I don't want the money - no, I can't give it to you either :) Catch-22 ?!

And, I know that a lot of my readers read my page via the RSS/ATOM feed. So, the ads may not even be clicked to such an extent. I'm just a tad bit sad that I had to engage the resources of some individual (probably) to verify my site for this Ads stuff in the first place (understandably, probing the site for ads to be put up is automatic).

Google Video (Transcript) Search ...

http://video.google.com

The first search I launched was for my favorite comedy serial "Friends"
http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=friends&btnG=Google+Search

Our mission is to organize the world's information, and that includes the thousands of programs that play on our TVs every day. Google Video enables you to search a growing archive of televised content – everything from sports to dinosaur documentaries to news shows.

Just type in your search term (for instance, ipod or Napa Valley) or do a more advanced search (for instance, title:nightline) and Google Video will search the closed captioning text of all the programs in our archive for relevant results. Click on a program title on your results page and you can look through short snippets of the text along with still images from the show. Visit the "About this show" side panel to learn when this show will air next.

Right now we're just testing this product, so you'll find programs only from a limited number of channels, which we've been indexing since late December 2004. You can expect to see more and more content as we continue to add new channels.

...


Courtesy: About Google Video

Daily Cartoon - 01/24/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20366168050125.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007534.gif

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WIMAX : WIMAX Forum selects testing lab

The WiMAX Forum™ has selected its standardization test lab and announces a certification roadmap that marks July 2005 for the launch of the WiMAX Forum Certified™ program.

...

The selection of Cetecom is the culmination of a rigorous 12-month review process by the WiMAX Forum. Cetecom was chosen for its extensive range of testing and compliance services, which includes experience in wireless technologies such as GSM/GPRS, EDGE, W-CDMA, Wi-Fi® and Bluetooth®. Headquartered in Spain, Cetecom has affiliate regional labs which will allow WiMAX Forum members worldwide to easily access the testing facilities.

“Cetecom Spain is proud to have been selected by the WiMAX Forum as the official certification lab for WiMAX products," said Fernando Hardasmal, Cetecom Spain’s deputy general manager. “We are working diligently with the WiMAX Forum to implement the test profiles for IEEE 802.16-2004 so that we can begin accepting vendor equipment in July."

...


Link to article

Broadband: Reliance will have broadband in two out of three villages

...

Reliance Infocomm will offer voice and data (broadband) in two out of three villages by December 2005 where it has set its network. The company also has set a target to match those set by the government-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd to offer broadband services in every village by 2012.

...


Link to article.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Broadband: India - IP based TV (ZTE, Reliance, Microsoft, Ocra, Kasenna, ...)

India Preps for IPTV (Internet Protocol based TeleVision) Explosion

Another market that may prove fruitful for Microsoft TV is India, where Reliance Infocomm Ltd. has been trialing the software giant's system for some time now (see Reliance, Microsoft Team on IP TV).

But Reliance isn't the only operator with IPTV plans. This week Chinese vendor ZTE Corp. (Shenzhen: 000063 - message board; Hong Kong: 0763), which includes Microsoft's middleware in its Telco TV offering, announced a $25 million triple-play equipment contract award with Atlas Interactive (India) Pvt. Ltd. (see ZTE Wins Triple-Play Deal in India and ZTE Will Unveil IP TV in Venice).

ZTE is providing equipment for the service provider's rollout of its NetTV services in the Delhi area. Atlas has plans to launch its service all over India, with analysts estimating the project will cost about $200 million initially.

So is this another score for Microsoft? Not this time. Rival middleware vendor Orca Interactive Ltd. has this deal in the bag (see Orca Wins IP TV Deal in India).

Another middleware player, Kasenna Inc., is also talking of success in India, though it's not known yet whether the deal is for a broad suite of Telco TV systems or just the firm's video servers (see Kasenna Launches TotalTV System). "India's going to be a very big [IPTV] market in 2005," predicts Kasenna sales director Robert Hopkins.


Link to article.

Broadband: Thrust for rural broadband in India ...

According to the planning commission, for a cost-effective and quick broadband rollout, wireless technology seems to be more suited.

The plan panel draft paper also suggests that appropriate spectrum should be delicenced, including the 5.15-5.35 Ghz for Wi-fi and Wi max technology
.

Other things that the panel recommends are:

"As existing service providers may not be interested in rural areas, the future model for operations may have to be based on the one suggested in the recommendations of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (Trai), which includes niche players being either franchisees of the incumbent (state-controlled Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. being the dominant player) or independent operators registered with the government."

Link to complete article and some recommendations.

Broadband: India - BSNL, DOT plans ...

The Department of Telecommunication, he said, had a vision of 250 million direct exchange lines, 20 million internet connections and 10 million broadband connections by the end of December 2007.

...

BSNL is also targeting 6.6 million internet and over six million broadband connections during the same period, its Director N K Mangla told reporters.

...


Link to article.

Broadband: Reliance now focussed more on mobile than broadband ?

Reliance Info plans to double user base by March next

Reliance Infocomm plans to double its subscriber base to 20 million by the end of next fiscal on the back of aggressive network rollout and marketing intiatives.

...

Further, Mr Nanavaty said the company will soon rollout broadband services, but as of now it was eyeing doubling the wireless user base.

...

Link to article.

Broadband: Reliance waits for DOT clearance to roll out high speed wireless broadband ...

RIL awaits frequency allocation by DoT

Reliance Infocomm Ltd (RIL) is awaiting frequency allocation by the Department of Telecom (DoT) and Wireless Planning and Coordination (WPC) wing to roll out third generation (3G) mobile services that will enable data transfer speed of up to 2.4 megabytes per second.

3G services, by deploying CDMA 2000 1X EvDO technology, are expected to enable higher-end data services.

''EvDO has already been implemented in our campus at Mumbai. We are technically ready for launch, but are waiting for frequency allocation from DoT and WPC,'' Reliance Infocomm Group Head (Wireless Network) Arun Sur told reporters here.

...


Link to article

Humor: Andhraiites names ...

Again, another candidate for my humor blog, but being presented here since it has to do something with my "background" :)

Andhraiites (terminology used to refer to folks from Andhra Pradesh, my family's place of origin) names are always known to sound like college degrees (a.b.c.d, e.f.g.h, and so on) ...

A joke on this nomenclature goes along the following lines:

On a flight, James Bond finds himself seated next to a telugu software engineer...
Telugu Guy "Hello, May I know your name please?"
James Bond "I am Bond...James Bond."
James Bond "And you?"
Telugu Guy "I am Sai...
Venkata Sai...
Siva Venkata Sai ...
Laxminarayana Siva Venkata Sai...
Srinivasula Laxminarayana Siva Venkata Sai...
Rajasekhara Srinivasula Laxminarayana Siva Venkata Sai...
Sitaramanjaneyula Rajasekhara Srinivasula Laxminarayana Siva Venkata Sai...
Bulusupalli Sitaramanjaneyula Rajasekhara Srinivasula Laxminarayana Siva Venkata Sai..."

Since then when anyone asks Bond his name he simply says "James Bond".

Yahoo Desktop Search

I've been an absolute and unashamed fan of Google since the time I got introduced to it in 1999/2000 by a dear ex-colleague, Moinak (kewl guy, now works for Sun MicroSystems India) !

Their purchase and introduction of various other products has only endeared them more to me since then. One of their recent launches, Google Desktop Search (GDS) is quite impressive.

However, its inability to index and search PDF recently hampered my studies to such an effect that I *had* to try out Yahoo's Desktop Search. And, I must say, I'm pretty impressed with it too. This application gives a lot of control to the user and since it's a separate application by itself (not "embedded" within the browser), it gives a lot of options in manipulating, filtering, sorting searches and output results.

FWIW, I have written about other "add ons" to GDS (which include ability to search PDF files), however add-ons aren't the same thing as inbuilt stuff. The extremely kewl extensions for Firefox are not included in this discussion about add-ons :)

Tremors in Chennai at 9.45am ...

There were mild tremors in Chennai today morning at around 9.45am. I couldn't feel a thing. However some friends of mine who were at their offices (in 3rd floor or so) at around that time said that the vibrations were clearly perceptible and that all people in their offices rushed to the ground floor.

When I looked up the net, none of the major Indian news sites had any info on it till around 12pm. Here's some news from the "local portal" Chennai Online (warning: that site is usually laced with useless/annoying pop-ups).

McDonalds in B'lore & Chennai ...

Some time ago I heard of McDonald's going to open shop (finally!) in B'lore and Chennai. Apparently the South India regional license had been purchased by someone and it was open for others to "sub-license" it. Anyone have more news ?

Daily Cartoon - 01/23/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert27323360050124.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007533.gif

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If Men Ruled The World

Once again, an ideal candidate for my humor blog, but being presented here for its aptness ;-)

- Any fake phone number a girl gave you would automatically forward your call to her real number.

- Nodding and looking at your watch would be deemed an acceptable response to "I love you."

- Hallmark would make "Sorry, what was your name again?" cards.

- When your girlfriend really needed to talk to you during the match, she'd appear in a little box in the corner of the screen during half-time.

- Breaking up would be a lot easier. A smack on the arse and a "Good effort, you'll get 'em next time" would pretty much do it.

- Birth control would come in beer, vodka, or bourbon.

- Each year, your raise would be pegged to the fortunes of the football team of your choice.

- The funniest guy in the office would get to be chief executive.

- "Sorry I'm late, but I got really wasted last night" would be an acceptable excuse for tardiness.

- At the end of the workday, a whistle would blow and you'd jump out your window and slide down the tail of a brontosaurus and right into your car like Fred Flintstone.

- Lifeguards could remove citizens from beaches for violating the "public ugliness" ordinance.

- Tanks would be far easier to rent.

- The garbage bins would take themselves out.

- Instead of beer belly, you'd get "beer biceps."

- Instead of an expensive engagement ring, you could present your wife-to-be with a giant foam hand that said, "You're number 1!"

- Valentine's Day would be moved to February 29th so it would only occur in leap years.

- St. Patrick's Day, however, would remain exactly the same. But it would be celebrated every month.

- Crimestoppers would be broadcast live, and you could phone in advice to the pursuing cops. Or to the crooks.

- Two words: "Friends, naked".

- It would be perfectly legal to steal a sports car, as long as you returned it the following day with a full tank of gas.

- Every man would get four real Get Out of Jail Free cards per year.

- When a copper gave you a ticket, every smart-aleck answer you responded with would actually reduce your fine. As in: Policeman: "You know how fast you were going?" You: "All I know is, I was spilling my beer all over the place." Policeman: "Nice one. That's 10 bucks off."

- Taps would run "Hot," "Cold," and "100 per cent proof."

- People would never talk about how fresh they felt.

- Telephones would automatically cut off after 30 seconds of conversation.

Eastern Love Vs. Western Love ...

The following image found its way into my inbox today, courtesy a friend, with the above title as the subject and nothing else in the email. What do *you* think - does it reflect the truth, is it being partisan, is it just crap or do you have something else to say ?

east-vs-west-love

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Daily Cartoon - 01/22/05


http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007532.gif

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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Daily Cartoon - 01/21/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20050112205522.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007531.gif

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Memories: Tom Cruise outside our house ...

tom_cruise_outside_house

Can you recognize those goggles ? They're the ones Tom Cruise uses in MI-2 ;-)

BTW, that's a snap of me, probably more than 15yrs ago :)

Friday, January 21, 2005

Sony Admits MP3 Error

Wow, this is NEWS ! Really, I was so pissed off with Sony when they didn't introduce MP3 in their audio systems giving damned reasons, including supposedly saying that the MP3 format was against music creators (not to mention that Sony were music distributors and considered MP3 to be cutting down their sales), blah, blah, blah ...

"In a rare show admission of taking a wrong turn, Sony's officials have admitted that their stance on MP3 players was wrong." While this was pretty obvious to anyone who has ever shopped for a portable MP3 player, it is nice to see Sony admit their shortcoming. Ken Kutaragi puts it best when he says, "We're growing up," and with any luck future devices won't be crippled with silly formats no one uses.

Source: /.

Travel: On the way to Nathula Pass ...

Rams and me on the way to Nathula Pass (via Flickr).

r002-032

Of course using Flickr does involve a little bit more work, but it gives a lot of control on the layout, size of the image, ...
Rams and me on the way to Nathula Pass (trying this via Hello)

Posted by Hello

Travel: Anyone knows what this flower is ?

Taken during my trip to Darjeeling in their permanent flower show. I don't remember it's name though :(

r006-021

Memories: School days ...

That's me receiving the *Gold* medal for getting the first place in 100m running competition in my 10th standard (grade) ;-) Behind me is Vinid, one of my best friends at school. Looking on is my favorite Biology teacher, Ms.Meher.

From track events, I moved onto more of field events like Shotput, Javelin and Discus throw and those helped me get the sports champinship during college for two out of the four years. Each of these years (at college), I got the maximum points in field events, while Laxman Prabhu, my senior at college got the max points in track events. We shared the championship cup both times !

first_in_running_in_tenth

As for now, the sports arena is as far away as it can be :(

Cool image ...

The following image has found its way into my inbox several times over the past few days. One hot, cool image :) An absolute delight for the viewer's eye !

cool

XLRI hosting IR meet

Xavier Labour Research Institute (XLRI) Jamshedpur, which specialises in personnel management and industrial relations among other disciplines, is hosting the fifth National Industrial Relations Conference (NIRC 2005) beginning January 22.

Organised by Forum for Industrial Relations, the industrial relations society of XLRI, the theme of the convention is —New economy bandwagon. NIRC will highlight latest labour law developments in the BPO industry, their implications and how to leverage them to achieve harmonious relationships.

The conference is divided into sessions on issues like attrition management, union consciousness and labour laws, people relations, performance management and career management.

...


Complete story here.

Daily Cartoon - 01/20/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20050146466121.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007530.gif

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Thursday, January 20, 2005

I'm 26% evil !! :)

26% Evil is indeed a scary thought ! :)

I am 26% evil.


I try to stay away from evil deeds but succumb to temptation every once in a while. I'm not quite on my way to hell but I certainly have some explaining to do.

Are you evil? Find out at Hilowitz.com


Courtesy: There's No Blog.

Broadband: A query on Airtel "Broadband" plans

Airtel Broadban Tariff Plan.

I'm presently on the 64kbps package @ 550 rental, 49 top up (night 10pm-8am "free"), 99 modem charges package (total Rs.698). This comes with a compulsory "free" 100 pulses of telephone calls.

Now, I do want to get onto the 64kbps 24hr plan and that seems to be available @ 600 (DSL) + 99 (modem). However, it appears that I *must* also buy a "telephone" package at a miminum of Rs.250 (or so), i.e, I can't get *internet only*, it is always clubbed with a voice plan.

Note that nothing in their Tariff Plan states this !! Akin to cheating customers !!

The thing is I have a regular BSNL connection and due to heavy usage of STD, I'd rather not let that go due to the "cheap" prices of STD with BSNL.

So, is this the tariff issue the case with everyone ? Can someone throw some light ?

A bunch of tools to monitor stuff about bandwidth ...

http://lists.gpick.com/pages/Bandwidth_Tools.htm

Ubuntu, the "new" Linux ...

A few weeks ago, after hearing good reviews from a few forums, I had applied for a shipment of Ubuntu Linux and then totally forgot about it (as usual). I was presently surprised when the package of 10CDs reached me. Promptly, as the Linux philosophy had taught me ;-), I sent out a mail to my office folks stating that I had these free CDs to give away. And Krish chipped in with a donation from what he had received too.

For quite some time [say more than an hour or so! :)], there weren't many replies asking for the CDs and I was beginning to wonder if people had indeed lost interest in Linux, but then the crowd "came in" and I was swamped with requests for more CDs than I could donate. I've pointed all of them to ILUGC's (India Linux User Group, Chennai) "CDs for Grab", but then hope to cut a few CDs on my own and pass it on too, all in good spirit.

Here's a nice article on Ubuntu.

WiMax: A grim reminder that the real thing is still far far away ...

Real WiMax certified devices are not expected till at least Q4 of this year. That's quite far and the certification process is actually expected to start only in Q3 of the year. Note all those talking about "WiMax compliant devices" or deploying or testing WiMax devices are either misinformed about the actual status or are trying to mislead.

Link to article.

More links:
http://www.unstrung.com/document.asp?doc_id=66365
http://it.slashdot.org/it/05/01/20/2245205.shtml?tid=193&tid=137&tid=164&tid=1
http://www.ebcvg.com/news.php?id=4524
http://news.zdnet.co.uk/communications/wireless/0,39020348,39184894,00.htm
http://www.vnunet.com/news/1160655

And now, here's a report about denial of such delays from WiMax forum !
http://rcrnews.com/news.cms?newsId=21132

Daily Cartoon - 01/19/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20051830830120.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007529.gif

BCced to intended recepients.
Archive @ http://sudhir-lp.blogspot.com

Broadband: Price war starts in India ?!

If the price wars are really starting, and are beneficial to the customer, I'd be quite happy given that I have an Airtel DSL connection (64kbps, 10pm-8am "free", extra 10hrs per months, ~Rs.700 per month, "unlimited" download) and I hate the present pricing model ! I'd prefer a 256kbps, 24hrs available, unlimited download, even at around Rs.1000 or so [of course, the lesser the price and higher the speed, the more better :)].

Airtel Broadband and Telephone Services (ABTS) will kick off an aggressive price war in internet broadband services soon, following the recent entry by state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL).

“We will reduce prices to match BSNL offer and an announcement will be made in a few days,” said Prem Pradeep, chief executive officer, ABTS.

“We will revise prices to remain competitive in all aspects, be it usage charges, upfront costs and bandwidth capacity,” he added.

...


Complete story here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Broadband: How fast is your ISP ?

Clicking on the following links will either directly perform a test or take you to a page where you could choose from a variety of test parameters.

ZDNet: How fast is your ISP ?
McAfee: Speedometer
Broadband India Users Group: Test My Speed

Broadband: Reliance, VSNL trying out WiMax

Looks like India is gearing up for WiMax. I hope this is not just on paper. Anyone have more details ?

Reliance Infocomm, the code division multiple access mobile service company, the Tata group's Videsh Sanchar Nigam (VSNL) and the state-owned Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) have or are about to test launch wireless broadband technology commonly known as WiMax.

A Reliance Infocomm spokesman confirmed this: "We are looking at new technology options, including WiMax. It is at an experimental stage and trials are now being conducted in our lab."

A VSNL board member said, "WiMax technology is being tested by VSNL. This will give us access for last mile wireless connectivity."

A BSNL executive in Mumbai said; "We expect to set up a pilot project in Pune within the next six months."

...


Complete story here.

Humor: Especially for TCSers ;-)

A candidate for my humor blog, nonetheless ...

Came in an internal list. Must read :)

BTW, No offense meant.

One day, three consultants, each one from WIPRO, INFOSYS and TCS, went out for a walk. They were old buddies from Engg college, and they were together for a college reunion..

For no apparent reason, they went into this zoo and passed a monkey. Being in the same business and from the same college, there was a little bit of a peer competition going on between themselves - they couldn't resist testing themselves against each other - especially the Infosys guy said to the others: "Why don't we prove who is the best among ourselves?". Why not, said the other two !

The Infoscion said "Let's have a test. Whoever makes this monkey laugh, works for the best firm".

By mutual agreement, the Infoscion took the first turn. Being a pure logical strategist, the Infoscion tried to make the monkey laugh by telling jokes. The monkey stayed still. As a more practical consultant, the Wipro guy tried to make funny gestures... no good, the monkey stayed put... Now, comes the TCSer... being the practical guy he was always trained to be, he whispered something into the monkey's ear, and it burst out laughing at him.

The other two were astonished. How did this TCS guy manage to beat them? No way they were going to accept defeat so easily. So the Wipro guy said "OK, let's take another test. Let's make this monkey cry !!"

So there they went again, applying the same methods as before. The Infosys guy narrated sad stories, the Wipro guy made sad gestures,and they failed again... Then, the TCSer again whispered something into the monkey's ear and lo! It started crying, patting the TCSer's shoulder! The other two just could not believe their eyes!

So the Infoscion said "OK, you've won twice. If you can win just this one, we will bow to you. Let's make this monkey run".

And he barked at the monkey and ordered him to run. Of course, it stayed where it was. The Wipro guy, true to his type, pushed and prodded the monkey - still No go. So...here comes our TCS guy, again, and whispers into the monkey's ear. The monkey just takes off! It runs and runs as fast as it can, as if it was scared to death!

The other two surrendered. Said they: "OK, we give up.You're the best among us, and you work for the Best firm of the three. But please, please tell us your secret," they begged him. "Well", said the TCSer, "The first time I made it laugh, I told it I work for TCS. The next time, I told the monkey how much I get paid...so it started crying. And finally I told him that I was here for recruitment.

GSM Emergency Number

Update: Wikipedia has very useful information regarding worldwide emergency numbers.

I received the following via email and have indeed verified that 112 can be dialled even if the keypad is locked. I tried this on a motorola, nokia, samsung phone. The samsung phone, after keying in 112, cutely displays "Call SOS". FWIW, I didn't complete the call though - didn't want the police hounding my back :)

MOBILE USERS - NUMBER CAN BE DIALED WITHOUT SIM CARD DURING EMERGENCY. The Emergency Number worldwide for GSM Mobile is 112 and not 999. You can dial 112 even without a Sim Card. If you find yourself out of coverage area of your mobile network and there is an emergency, dial 112 and the mobile will search any existing network to establish the emergency number for you. Do share this important info with others too. Hope you'll never need to use it though! and interestingly ... this number 112 can be dialed even while the keypad is locked.

Daily Cartoon - 01/18/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20024411050119.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007528.gif

BCced to intended recepients.
Archive @ http://sudhir-lp.blogspot.com

Chennai cyber crime branch DSP on mobile phones with camera

Heard this on Radio Mirchi a couple of minutes ago (a program on camera mobile phones, in the aftermath of DPS scandal):

The DSP (if I'm not wrong) of Chennai cyber crime branch wants licenses to be issued for phones with cameras so that these licenses could be used for tracking usage of camera phones !

What weird logic ?! This IMO is a highly inverted logic and prone to the usual license-raj abuse if implemented. FWIW, I don't know if it was his personal opinion or reflected that of the department (and indicative of things likely to come in the future).

To his credit though, he did mention that most of phone crimes are performed from prepaid phones where false address proofs are furnished. That is the real problem and not the former.

Telecom: BSNL-MTNL merger may miss 'deadline'

The merger of Bharat Sanchar Nigam (BSNL) and Mahanagar Telephone Nigam (MTNL) could be delayed beyond the government’s target date of mid-’05 since various options being considered, including an IPO by BSNL before the merger, might prove to be time-consuming.

...

“Whichever route for the merger is adopted, it appears that the merger will take at least six months to a year,” sources added.

...


Read more here.

Bharti's Mittal first Indian in GSM body

FWIW, my mobile and DSL (64kbps) connection are from Bharti ! :)

Bharti group Chairman Sunil Mittal has become the first member from India to join the GSM Association as a, a global trade association representing the GSM industry, having more than 670 mobile operators serving over 1.2 billion customers worldwide.

...


Read more here.

Intel readies tech-package (including WLAN) for Indian campuses

Chip giant Intel Corporation is entering the corridors of Indian universities — putting up technology centres, wireless LAN infrastructure, providing access to its R&D journals gratis, networking all IT departments with common standards and, of course, PCs — as part of “rapid deployable hardware packages”.

Intel’s world-wide sales chief, Jason Chen recently signed an agreement with UGC chairman, Dr Arun Nigavekar, to provide an integrated technology infrastructure that would help the 300-odd universities hold its own amidst international business schools that are cropping up.

...


Read more here.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Google Releases Improved Photo Management Software - Picasa 2

Google Releases Improved Photo Management Software to Organize and Share Pictures

Picasa 2 (available at http://www.picasa.com) Offers Editing Tools, Advanced Effects, Better Organization and CD Burning for Digital Photo Users - For Free

...

New and improved features of Picasa include:

* Advanced editing tools - Fix pictures with more powerful tools, 12 photographic filter effects, color and lighting adjustments, red-eye removal, photo cropping and straightening.

* Improved organization - Add captions, quickly and easily search across all photos on a computer, attach labels and stars for better photo organization, reorder pictures and clean up cluttered folders.

* Backup capabilities - Archive photos from a computer to a CD or DVD, save photos on an external drive, and create gift CDs with personalized slideshows.

* Customized prints - Print at home with standard sizes, or order photo prints by uploading pictures to Ofoto, Shutterfly, Snapfish, and Walmart.com.

* Enhanced sharing features - Email photos via Gmail (and other email clients), upload photos to a Blogger blog, and send and discuss photos in real-time via Hello™, Picasa's free peer-to-peer software, available at http://www.hello.com.


Fun: Here's a real funny post about "relief work"

Highlights some of the "practical difficulties" city folks face when going to a real village ! :)

BTW, take it in the right spirit folks.

http://sudhishkamath.blogspot.com/2005/01/when-i-refused-to-do-field-work.html

MTNL Broadband experience

An "experience" email from a forum I'm on. For those who don't know, the incumbent PSU telco, MTNL serves only Mumbai and Delhi, while BSNL (it's sister concern) serves the rest of the places in India.

I had earlier decided to hold onto my Airtel connection and figure out what to do to the BSNL broadband service I had applied for earlier. Maybe I should just try and find out what the BSNL folks do intend to do - it should be some fun :)

This morning I went to my local telephone exchange in Bombay to apply for the new broadband (MTNL has branded it TriBand) ADSL facility. Initially I had planned to apply even before the services were launched, but with my wide-ranging experience with MTNL I knew that local officials usually have no clue about what corporate ad campaigns claim.

So, 4 days after the much hyped launch I land up at the Quick Customer Service Centre of my exchange. Of course, past experience has shown that the only true word in that impressive sounding title is the word 'centre'--it is neither quick, nor is there any customer service, but that's another story.

The lady at the desk didn't have much of clue and after a long search managed to give me the form. I filled up the form (fairly short and impressive by MTNL standards) and waited to submit it back. Then started the usual MTNL shenanigans--the chap there told me I needed to get a photocopy of the form while submitting it.

I patiently trudged outside, realised that the nearest photocopy shop was a good 10 mins walk away, but anyway did the needful. Got it back and now another lady scanned the form for 5 minutes, then scanned the photocopy for another 5 (as if it would be any different) and then sagely told me that the service still wasn't available at my exchange.

She started telling me that I should visit another nearby exchange, but another employee who overheard stopped her and told her that forms for specific areas would only be accepted at the local exchange. He said they would take the form and keep it on a waiting list. According to him, it would take a "few months" for MTNL to start the service in my exchange. He added that only 3 MTNL exchanges in Mumbai currently offered the service [incidentally, the same ones where they've been offering the service for a year now, on a 'trial basis']

So much for MTNL's TriBand! The sad truth seems to be that they have just 'announced' the service. It will take months before any connection is actually provided. All those news reports of private service providers getting worried are baseless--with MTNL's service standards, the private crowd have nothing to fear. All that MTNL is currently providing is forms for the service, with the actual service no where in sight. And this after announcing all over that the service is completely operational.

Incidentally, my telephone exchange is one of the largest in Bombay and in Central Bombay (Sion), just a few kilometres from MTNL's Bombay HQ. I can understand if one of the small exchanges in the distant suburbs don't have a clue yet, but when one of Bombay's biggest exchanges doesn't have a clue, it shows the real truth behind tall claims.

News: Tsunami moves North Pole, shortens daytime

Daytime is now 2.68 microseconds shorter because of last month's tsunami.

The massive force unleashed by an earthquake off the coast of Indonesia altered the shape of Earth in a number of minute yet significant ways, NASA scientists have determined.

In data released this week, NASA determined that the Dec. 26 earthquake moved the North Pole, which constantly jiggles slightly, 2.5 centimeters--about an inch--in an eastward shift that is part of a long-term seismic shift.

Earth also became slightly more round, as the planet's oblateness, the quality of being flattish on top and bulging at the equator, decreased by a small amount. Further, daytime decreased by 2.68 microseconds because Earth now spins slightly faster on its axis. The phenomenon is similar to a figure skater in a twirl pulling his or her arms in slightly closer.

...


Read the complete article here.

Daily Cartoon - 01/17/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20366165050118.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007517.gif

BCced to intended recepients.
Archive @ http://sudhir-lp.blogspot.com

News: Siemens mobile arm for sale or closure

For those who own a Siemens mobile phone, this could be disturbing news.

Thoughts: Need of tomorrow ...

I found the following snippet in a linux mailing list and it's taken slightly out of context here.

"udev seems to be the need of tomorrow. So, instead of shying away from it, i'd rather recommend you to find out the real problem and fix them."

If you can ignore the "udev" part in the above, the rest of it makes absolute sense in any context. Wonderful words and approach.

Wish we knew so absolutely what are the "needs of tomorrow" for all thing in life :)

Jobs: i-Gate to hire 1,000 this year

With two multi-million dollar contracts in its kitty, iGate Global plans to hire 1,000 employees in 2005.

Source: Economic Times.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Looks like I missed her ...

Remember the talk about the Swades heroine earlier? It appears Sify.com had a livechat with her at 5pm today. Too bad I missed the opportunity ! ;-(

New courtesy: Kiruba

Telecom: Another illegal exchange busted in Chennai

The Vigilance and Telecom Monitoring Cell of DoT and the Chennai Police cracked down one illegal telephone exchange in operating in Aminjikarai area of Chennai. This crackdown follows within days after busting an exchange in T. Nagar area of the city. This illegal set up consisted of sophisticated telecom equipments like voice finders, ADSL routers, 8 telephone lines provided by M/s RIL, while five 512 Kbps internet bandwidth on DSL connection from M/s Bharti and another 512 Kbps and one 256 Kbps internet bandwidth on DSL connections from M/s VSNL.

...

This crackdown was as a result of the information received on the Toll Free No. 1600 110 420.


Read more here.

Interesting Quote: I let my mind wander. And it did not come back ..

found in an email signature :)

WiMax: Intel and ZTE Collaborate to Deliver Global Wireless Broadband Networks

Intel Corporation and ZTE Corporation today announced plans to jointly deliver global broadband wireless solutions using WiMAX technology. WiMAX is an emerging wireless standard that promises to provide high-speed broadband connectivity for both fixed and mobile wireless networks.

...

As part of this agreement, ZTE will develop and deploy infrastructure and customer premises equipment using Intel's silicon for WiMAX solutions based on IEEE 802.16-2004 (previously known as IEEE 802.16REVd), and the upcoming IEEE 802.16e standards for mobile networks. "Rosedale" is Intel's first "system-on-a-chip" solution for cost-effective customer premise equipment (CPE) supporting 802.16-2004.

...


Read more here.

Telecom: Trai fixes Rs 107 crore fee for unified licence

The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India on Thursday said that companies can offer all telecom and broadcasting services including cable TV, DTH and radio by paying a one-time fee of Rs 107 crore for a unified licence.

...


Read more here.

Public mailing lists available "automagically" as blogs and RSS feeds thanks to gmane ...

India Linux Users Group Chennai
North American Network Operators Group
South Asian Network Operators Group

For those who want to make their public mailing list reachable via a blog/rss interface, try using gmane ! Read their FAQ, and fill out the subscription form if you want to.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Fortune Magazine Lists Cisco Systems as One of the Best Places to Work

Once again, Cisco Systems has landed high on Fortune magazine's annual "best places to work" list. This time the company is ranked #4 among large companies - those with more than 10,000 employees. Fortune applauded Cisco's efforts to make the workplace fun, mentioning the nearly famous "nerd lunches" (technology-talk lunches) and the movie-themed food available in some cafeterias on Oscar day.

Cisco, #27 on the overall Fortune list, has now made the elite ranking eight straight years. That's no accident. Company officials say that enriching the work - and non-work - experience of employees is a core commitment.

...


Read the complete article here.

Google groups still far away from mature state ?!

I was recently added to two google groups without being asked or permitted ! That, IMO, is bad etiquettes. I used the "Google Groups Abuse Reporting" ability provided with the first email that came from the group, to indicate that the owner added my email-id without permission (this was a simple radio button click) and also provided the Message-ids of the emails that came in.

And, Google sent me this automated reply. It certainly doesn't invoke extreme confidence that anything positive will be done to owners of such groups who add members automatically.

Thank you for your note. Google does not regularly monitor or censor postings sent to Google Groups, but we do try to prevent wide-scale spam and other forms of Usenet abuse. Please be assured that the information you sent to us is being collected and taken into account. While we understand how annoying off-topic posts can be, we aren't able to pursue most complaints we receive about them. We are using the information you provide to make large-scale improvements in preventing abuse. We appreciate your help in our efforts to increase the quality of Google Groups.

Replies to this email address will not be received. If you have a general Google Groups question or wish to report a post that you suspect is illegal, please write to us at groups-support@google.com

Regards,
The Google Team


FWIW, Google Groups does provide an ability to cut off further unsolicited subscriptions. However, for me to be able to exercise that, I have to sign up as a member of Google Groups (forcing me to!) !!

Daily Cartoon - 01/15/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20050112205415.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007515.gif

BCced to intended recepients.
Archive @ http://sudhir-lp.blogspot.com

Daily Cartoon - 01/14/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20050112205415.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007514.gif

BCced to intended recepients.
Archive @ http://sudhir-lp.blogspot.com

Swades (Hindi movie) ...

I happened to watch it today and was quite impressed. I've already loved the music (it was playing almost non-stop for a long time in my recent M'lore<->Chennai trip).

The movie's story line is probably the routine run-of-the-mill story, inspite of any other way others want to portray it. But, I loved the way in which it was delivered. I'm not the best at writing movie reviews - so, I'll leave the honors to Google to help you.

One thing that has struck me in Ashutosh Gowariker's (the movie director) movies (earlier was "Lagaan" and now "Swades" and hence I may be generalizing too much out of just two movies, albeit "Pehla Nasha", "Izzat Ki Roti" and "Baazi" were also his!) is that he has at least one devotional song and brings a fresh new lead female face :)

I liked Gracy Singh from the earlier "Lagaan" and "Gayatri Joshi" in this one. Albeit Gayatri is a bit overdressed for most of the occasions (she always appears to have a "makeup" readied face) in the movie and her face reminds me very much of some other person at my livelihood place ;-)

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Daily Cartoon - 01/13/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20050146465114.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007513.gif

BCced to intended recepients.
Archive @ http://sudhir-lp.blogspot.com

Daily Cartoon - 01/12/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20051830810113.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007512.gif

BCced to intended recepients.
Archive @ http://sudhir-lp.blogspot.com

Friday, January 14, 2005

Cisco’s Secret Software Plan

Light Reading has very exclusive skinny on the Cisco’s secret strategy to shift focus from pure hardware to value added services, a move which is going to put it in direct conflict with occasional partners, IBM, Microsoft and Hewlett Packard. This is not a surprise since even John Chambers acknowledged at a recent analyst meeting that the company is going to move in the direction of offering solutions. Cisco, despite making the usual noises about the Chinese threat, is facing the same problems of commoditization as rest of Silicon Valley darlings.

...


Read more here.

Courtesy: Om Malik

Now, that's a real joke ! ...

"Two men were arrested for telling lawyer jokes while standing in line leading into First District Court. A spokesman for the Nassau courts said the men were causing a stir and that their exercise of their First Amendment rights to free speech was impeding the rights of others at the court."

Source: /.

Happy Pongal ...

to all readers out there !!

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Daily Cartoon - 01/09/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert27323220050110.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007509.gif

BCced to intended recepients.
Archive @ http://sudhir-lp.blogspot.com

An interesting way to "transparently" and easily encrypt (secure) your email traffic ...

I read this report on Ciphere Mail - an easy way to secure email exchange. Supposedly removes the "difficulties" and cumbersomeness associated with PGP and other similar attempts at security.

Has anyone tried it out yet ? Any recommendations ?

Got Ciphere Mail ?

WiMax guide ...

2005 will probably be the year in which WiMax sinks or swims as the next big thing in telecom technology. For that reason, plenty of people are going to need a quick and easy way of getting up to speed on what WiMax is and why it's stirring up so much interest.

This report aims to provide that quick and easy guide, by answering questions that are most frequently asked about WiMax. In the report's initial form, answers to eight basic questions are given, one per page. But the idea is that readers can ask further questions on the message board attached to this article. If you want to send a private message, please email editors@lightreading.com and include "WiMax Guide" in the subject field. Frequently posed questions will be answered by adding pages to this report.

For those that just want a high-level understanding of WiMax, here are the key points:

* WiMax is a broadband access technology that delivers high-speed, carrier-grade Ethernet data communications by wireless over city-sized distances.

* Its main use initially will be to deliver broadband Internet connections to buildings by wireless and to provide links between WLAN hotspots and carriers’ core IP networks (backhaul)

* Later, individual user devices such as PCs will be connected direct, and, eventually, mobile devices.

* Its big attractions are expected to be the usual Ethernet and wireless virtues of low costs, flexibility, ease of rollout and use, and interoperability.

* WiMax is not expected to be fully commercialized until about 2006.

...


Read more from here.

BSNL bets big on broadband

Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) plans to set up fixed wireless locations across the country to allow users gain access to broadband services at airports, railway stations, hotels and convention centres and even when they are on the move.

The project is estimated to cost around Rs 260 crore. It will help create a network of wireless areas — hotspots — for broadband access using WiFi (wireless fidelity) and WiMax (worldwide interoperability for microwave access) technologies, which provide connectivity at speeds up to 75 mbps against the current benchmark of 256 kbps.

Calcutta Telephones sources confirmed that the telecom major has already identified 15 cities where it will set up 300 WiFi hotspots in a phased manner during the current year. These locations will be chosen depending on the customer usage profile in each city. For the WiMax rollout, which will initially be on an experimental basis, BSNL has selected Calcutta, Chennai, Bangalore and the satellite towns of Mumbai and Delhi.

...


Read more here.

Courtesy: The Telegraph, India

Wake-up call for telecom twins

The department of telecommunications (DoT) has warned MTNL and BSNL that if they fail to meet their broadband targets, the surplus capacity will be made available to private players.

Mahanagar Telephone Nigam Ltd (MTNL) and Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) are targeting one million broadband subscribers each by 2005-end.

Calcutta Telephones sources said, “DoT has said it will unbundle unutilised copper telephone pairs to private players for last-mile connectivity if we are unable to utilise the broadband capacity.”

Read more @
http://www.telegraphindia.com/archives/archive.html

Lossless 30% JPG file compression

http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=05/01/12/0725217&tid=198

"The makers of the (classic) compression package Stuffit have written a program that can compress JPGs by roughly 30%. This isn't the raw image to JPG compression, this is lossless compression applied to the JPG file. Typical compression rates for JPGs are 2% to -1%. If you read the whitepaper (PDF), they are even proposing a new image format; StuffIt Image Format (SIF)."

Experience the earthquake ...

Someone passed around this link to demonstrate the visual feel of an earthquake of various magnitudes. A funny way to try and sense things though :)

http://www.z-axis-softsol.com/kishore/Experience%20the%20EARTH%20QUAKE.htm

Daily Cartoon - 01/11/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20024410850112.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007511.gif

BCced to intended recepients.
Archive @ http://sudhir-lp.blogspot.com

Microsoft working with Indian government on GIS project

Too shocked to speak, given that GIS is such an important area and a monopoly lock in seems imminent with them. Does anyone know of open source alternatives that can work in India ?

http://www.itworld.com/Tech/4535/050112msgis/
http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_1194980,0000.htm

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Interesting profile of an IIM Ahmedabad student

DIG of Police, Surya Prasad, IIM Ahmedabad - 2006 batch

And here is a surprise few lines about an individual @ IIMA's Class of 2006. Surprise because of two reasons; one because of the nature of his profile and two because he already was quite a regular guest on our forums. The person in question being Mr.Surya Prasad, a Deputy Inspector General of Police of the TamilNadu Police, an IPS officer of the batch of ‘88 (and a topper at that), police commissioner of Madurai in one of his previous assignments and a PaGaLGuY.com regular during his GD/PI days. And if these were not sufficient enough credentials, Mr.Prasad has been cracking an IIMA admit consecutively for last three years now (in fact BLACKI). Due to professional reasons, he could not take up his place over the last two years and now he is a student of the class of 2006. Know More !!! And yes, he is also the father of two beautiful kids :)

Work-Ex: 22yrs (yea, u read that right, its 22 YEARS !!)
Under-Graduation: B.Com - Osmania University


More details @
http://www.pagalguy.com/content/view/23/1/

Daily Cartoon - 01/10/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20366161050111.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007510.gif

BCced to intended recepients.
Archive @ http://sudhir-lp.blogspot.com

Calvin and his dad (wonderful Q&A session) ...

A dear friend sent me a powerpoint presentation (don't get into that folks!) that had a neat collection of Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. The cartoons are a collection of those in which Calvin asks his dad "tricky" or "ticklish" questions and gets "wonderfully smart" answers (like those that you'd give to ur kid) :) If anyone wants it, send me a note and I'll pass it on.

BTW, does anyone know if such sharing of cartoons could be in violation of any copyrights ?

Yahoo Unveils Software for Searching Computer Hard Drives

One month after aquiring a desktop search company, Yahoo moves into beta testing with an application it hopes can fend off Google and Microsoft.

Read the complete article at
http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/05/01/ap/ap_011105.asp?trk=nl

Courtesy: Technology Review

Ring of warning for children with mobile

Ring of warning for children with mobile - Scientist appeals to parents not to give cellphones to kids below the age of eight

...

Adam Stephenson, the marketing director at Commun8, said: “We absolutely do not want to damage children’s health. We have decided to suspend sales of the MyMo pending a chance to look at the Stewart report in detail.”

A spokesperson for the department of health said: “We continue to advise a precautionary approach to mobile phone use in under-16s. The government takes concerns about possible health effects from mobile phones and mobile phone base stations seriously. And that is why the government, jointly with industry, commissioned a £ 7.4 million research programme to increase the understanding of the possible health effects of mobile phones — a recommendation of the Stewart report.”


Read the complete article here.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Dictionary for Arguing with Women

A good candidate for my humor blog, but then I'd rather have the few men reading this, get a good chance at decrypting the mysteries of life that their wives subject them to ;-)

1. “Fine”
This is the word women use at the end of any argument when they feel they are right but can’t stand to hear you argue any longer. It means that you should shut up. (NEVER use “Fine” to describe how she looks. This will cause you to have one of those arguments.)

2. “Five minutes”
This is half an hour. It is equivalent to the five minutes that your football game is going to last before you take out the trash, so women feel that it’s an even trade.

3. “Nothing”
“Nothing” means something and you should be on your toes. “Nothing” is usually used to describe the feeling a woman has of wanting to turn you inside out, upside down, and backwards. “Nothing” usually signifies an argument that will last “Five Minutes” and end with the word “Fine.”

4. “Go Ahead” (with raised eyebrows)
This is NOT permission; it’s a dare! If you mistake it for permission, the result will be the woman will get upset over “Nothing” and you’ll have a “Five-minute” discussion that will end with the word “Fine.”

5. “Go Ahead” (normal eyebrows)
This is NOT permission, either. It means, “I give up” or “do what you want because I don’t care.” You will get a raised eyebrow “Go Ahead” in just a few minutes, followed by “Nothing” and “Fine” and she will talk to you in about “Five Minutes” when she cools off.

6. “Loud Sigh”
This is not actually a word, but is still often a verbal statement. Very frequently misunderstood by men. A “Loud Sigh” means she thinks you are a complete idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you over “Nothing.”

7. “Soft Sigh”
Again, not a word, but a verbal statement. “Soft Sighs” are one of the few things that some men actually understand. It means she is momentarily content. Your best bet is to not move or breathe in the hope that the moment will last a bit longer.

8. “Oh”
This word-followed by any statement-is trouble.
Example; “Oh, let me get that”. Or, “Oh, I talked to him about what you were doing last night.” If she says “Oh” before a statement, run, do not walk, to the nearest exit.
She will tell you that she is “Fine” when she is done tossing your clothes out the window, but do not expect her to talk to you for at least two days.

9. “That’s Okay”
This is one of the most dangerous statements that a woman can say to a man.
“That’s Okay” means that she wants to think long and hard before deciding what the penalty will be for whatever you have done. “That’s Okay” is often used with the word “Fine” and in conjunction with a raised eyebrow “Go Ahead.” Once she has had time to plan it out, you are in for some mighty big trouble.

10. “Please Do”
This is not a statement, it is an offer. The woman is giving you the chance to come up with an excuse for what you have done. In other words, a chance to get yourself into even more trouble. If you handle this correctly, you shouldn’t get a “That’s Okay.”

11. “Thanks”
The woman is thanking you. Don’t faint and don’t look for hidden meaning. Just say, “you’re welcome.”

12. “Thanks A Lot”
Dramatically different from “Thanks.” A woman will say “Thanks A Lot” when she is really ticked off at you. It is usually followed by the “Loud Sigh.” This signifies that you have hurt her in some callous way. Be careful not to ask what is wrong after the “Loud Sigh,” as she will only tell you “Nothing.”

IBM Opens Their Patent Portfolio to Open Source

"IBM announced that over 500 of their currently held software patents will be freely available to use for those who are working on open source projects (NY Times, free registration required), with the hope that more companies will do the same. More information is available at SourceLicense."

Source: /.

Other places you can get this news from : Google News

Bill Gates faces the usual glitches during D-Day ...

Bill Gates, of Microsoft fame, faced his usual set of glitches at CES keynote. To put it simply, the demo didn't run as he wanted it to - a bit unfortunate ?!

For a video clipping of this blooper, visit ZDNET.

Go here for a /. of this whole thing.

Wedding bells in the air ...

My best friend at college (whom I've known for at least 15 years, thanks to doing some part of our school together) has finally "succumbed". He's tying the knot on this 31-Jan. Here's wishing him and his wife-to-be all the best that life can offer.

I can only point him to the several instances in my humor blog to forewarn him, but then he's beyond the point of any sensible talk ;-)

On a more serious note, I've always been amazed at the concept of "arranged marriage" and otherwise. Right from the school days when "arranged marriage Vs. love marraige" was the hottest group-discussion topic ever debated to this day, the "concept" continues to amaze me. I've nothing against either of these systems myself and have had a fair share of seeing people, from close quarters, in the Indian context being "subject" to both "systems".

In the end, in either case, I think it is more of the will of both the partners to make things work for the relationship.

More on this another day.

Thieves Take Brain Remote Control

The BBC has an interesting story about a poor woman who had the remote-control device for her brian implant stolen. By Simson Garfinkel.
http://www.technologyreview.com/blog/blog.asp?blogID=1700&trk=nl


Courtesy : Technology Review

Daily Cartoon - 01/08/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20051830790106.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007508.gif

BCced to intended recepients.
Archive @ http://sudhir-lp.blogspot.com

Monday, January 10, 2005

Whatz it with India retail business houses ...

Straight jump to the topic.

In India (and I may be generalizing very much here, but I don't think I'm wrong), when you buy something from a shop and are not satisfied with it, there's very little chance that you'll be able to hand it back and get cash for exchange. Note, I'm not saying you can hand it back, but that you can't get the cash even in case they are unable to find a suitable replacement for your item.

More often than not, you'd be given a credit note and asked to come back any time to buy anything else of your choice, but then, no cash back. And, that's strange, though I can very well understand the reason they'd prefer it that way ! :)

At least that's the majority case.

First news on internet on Microsoft, MTV, Apple, Sun, Cisco, ...

Ever heard about the first time one of those companies was ever talked about on a mailing list (actually usenet) ?

Here's the full list of first mentions

http://www.google.com/googlegroups/archive_announce_20.html

GMail bug ? ...

Take a look at the following image ...

gmail-number-of-mails

The first line of the image "1-20 of hundreds" indicates that there could be hundreds of messages.

When I do click on the "older" link in the gmail window for getting older messages, it now says "21-40 of thousands".

Doesn't that appear strange ?

Arguably, thousands can also be mentioned in terms of hundreds, but I don't think that's an acceptable argument here. Anyone knows if this is a known "bug" and has already been reported ?

Obtain PAN number on 'TATKAL' basis ...

Income tax department has introduced an online application of PAN on ‘TATKAL’ basis. PAN can now be obtained in 5 days. The Link for the same is https://tin.tin.nsdl.com/pan/index.html.

HCL Tech completes buyout of Deutsche Bank stake in DSI

HCL Technologies Ltd. today said it has completed acquisition of the balance 49 per cent stake in DSI Financial Solutions, its joint venture with Deutsche Bank.

HCL Technologies has acquired the balance 49 per cent stake in DSI Financial Solutions Private Ltd. (DSI), Singapore, which was held by DB, the company informed the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The JV was created in September 2001.

...

Under the JV agreement, the Right of First Refusal (ROFR) for any technology business being outsourced to the Indian partner will continue to be accorded to HCL by DB for four more years till Sept. 2008.

...


Read the complete article here.

Courtesy: The Hindu

HCL Tech’s crystal ball - Predicting the future ...

Predicting the future is a dicey endeavour at best. Here is a company that's using its ERP system to improve its forecasting, says Abhinav Singh

The company’s Tally and Oracle-based in-house systems were unable to cope with its business volumes and islands of information had been created containing data from different sources spread across the globe.

...

Deploying an ERP system has helped HCL Technologies stay fast, flexible and well informed, aiding its managers in making quick, informed decisions while keeping tight control over all aspects of operations from projects to finance and encompassing human resources. SAP R/3 has helped the company standardise and integrate all its processes across all locations the world over. Information for strategic planning is now available on a real-time basis. Data regarding areas such as monitoring resource utilisation and profitability of projects is available on time.

...


Read the complete article here.

Courtesy: Express Computer Online.

Chennai registers negative growth for mobile industry ...

"...

Interestingly, subscriber additions in Chennai took a tumble with the city registering a negative growth of 0.25 per cent over November.

..."

Read the complete article on cellular user base growth for end 2004 here.

Review and info on RSS/ATOM and reader software ...

I've decided to "migrate" my RSS/ATOM info page from my home page to the blog. It's much easier for updates and truly reflects the power of blogs ;-)

Visit my Home Page.

Read some of my blogs:


My Subscriptions (import the OPML files into your favorite reader).

In case you don't know what RSS/ATOM feeds mean, I'd recommend that you take a few seconds to read the following articles

BBC : The really simple future of the web , What the hell is RSS ? , How To Speed-Read the Net , Hindustan Times: What is RSS? , All about RSS

I'm trying really hard to find a fully functional RSS/ATOM free feed reader for the Mircosoft Win2K platform.

And, here's my order of preference (dated 9-Jan-2005)

1. FeedDemon (This costs $30)
2. BlogLines (An online account)

Others reviewed on 16-Mar-2004 and not revisited since then:
3. Sharp Reader
4. Sauce Reader
5. Pluck
6. Bottom Feeder
7. Free Reader
8. Ampheta Desk

For a brief review and my opinions on the above, please read towards the end of this page. For a second opinion, you may try here'.

You can get a substantial listing of currently available RSS/ATOM feed readers from
Weblogs Compendium - RSS Readers , RSS Readers (Google Listing)

Remember to get a feed reader that has support both for RSS and ATOM feeds (sauce reader has necessary support). For readers capable of supporting ATOM, visit http://www.atomenabled.org

Top 100 Most-Subscribed-To RSS Feeds (many such lists are available, just google):
http://feeds.scripting.com/rankings , http://subhonker6.userland.com/rcsPublic/rssHotlist

Some sites which give you info on various feeds that are available are
http://www.2rss.com , http://www.syndic8.com , http://www.feedster.com

Feeds that I subscribe to are available as an OPML file from here (import them into your favorite reader).

For those who want to take a look at a blog, try visiting http://sudhir-lp.blogspot.com. The good thing is that Google (my favorite search engine) makes blogging very easy with it's "Blog This!" feature available via the Google Toolbar. And via an extension for Mozilla FireFox. And you need to have an active blog from Blogger. For the unitiated, Blogger can now provide your blogs as ATOM feeds (all for free !). The power of Blogging has been amplified with tools like w.bloggar.

My Ultra brief Review and Opinions on the listed RSS/ATOM Readers:

The best I've seen so far is FeedDemon - http://www.feeddemon.com
However it has turned paid mode ($30) since I tested the earlier beta versions :(

Bloglines comes a close second though it's an online edition of an RSS/ATOM reader.

When I did this first review on 16-Mar-2004 I was looking at Sharp Reader and it's quite nice. Have to see if they have the same pains that were in Sauce Reader (possible memory leak).

Sharp Reader - http://www.sharpreader.net

Sauce Reader came a close second (as on 2-Mar-2004). However, I'm beginning to have some concerns regarding it's memory management and sluggishness. Sometimes it's memory usage goes upto 170Mb and renders your system totally useless for a couple of mins :( However, if you are lucky, it can work for you ! And it's free for personal use and almost comparable to FeedDemon in terms of functionality.

Sauce Reader - http://www.synop.com/Products/SauceReader/ (free for personal use, requires a .NET runtime framework installation)

All three of the above (FeedDemon, Sharp Reader, Sauce Reader) offer integration with Blog posting tools like w.bloggar.

The next best free thing is Pluck from http://www.pluck.com
It's embedded in IE, but is quite functional, elegant. The "thing" is that it has a couple of neat functionality still to come. I'm hopeful and am keeping my fingers crossed.

Bottom Feeder - http://www.cincomsmalltalk.com/BottomFeeder is a close follower for free readers in terms of functionality, but the inbuilt browser isn't exactly upto standards in terms of rendering and leaves much to be desired.

Other feed readers that I've used are:

FreeReader - http://www.freereader.com
AmphetaDesk - http://www.disobey.com/amphetadesk/

Visit my Home Page.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

If you are using Spybot - Search & Destroy ...

There are new updates available dated 6-Jan-2005. Check them out.

Test post via w.bloggar v4.0 !!

Thanks to w.bloggar for making my life so easy !! I've been an avid user of w.bloggar for a quite time now. It helps me very much in posting to my blogs.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Daily Cartoon - 01/07/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20051830790106.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007507.gif

BCced to intended recepients.
Archive @ http://sudhir-lp.blogspot.com

BSNL announces broadband tarrif ...

Tarrif plan exactly located at http://www.bsnl.co.in/newsdetailed.php?news_id=187

That's the page that's having problems. Other folks who have seen it have told me that its Rs.500 (at 256kbps) for 1G transfer (I'm wondering if it'll be enough !).

The page is presently not working ! :) Keep checking.

More updates from elsewhere :

After careful study of the recently announced rate plans for BSNL's DataOne,
I doubt if anyone can dispute that they use a very scientific fundaa of
pulling a number out of a hat.. or they might have used an incremental
random number generator...

http://bsnl.co.in/newsdetailed.php?news_id=187

The rates make no sense at all..

10GB of transfer for a home user is more expensive than 10GB of transfer for
a corporate user.

For the basic home user .. the first 500MB come at Rs0.50/mb and additional
usage is at Rs.2.00/MB.

For the basic business user .. the first 1GB comes at Rs0.30/mb but all
additional usage costs Rs2.00/MB or a whopping 600% more.

All the other plans follow a similiar pricing scheme and are just as
ridiculous.

And NO static IP address.

The only "positive" thing seems to be that the extra usage charges are waived
until June ... so an early adopter gets to leech for the first 5 months and
suffer after that.

On the technical front ... they are going with ADSL 2+ ... which is a good
thing if they can come up with a more logical price plan or do away with
transfer based accounting altogether. They also completely forget to mention
what the uplink speeds are.

Things that I missed to update ...

1. The premier Indian business management school is finally opening its courses to companies at companies' campuses. Read in detail about the IIMB course at Infy Chennai. A landmark change to come !

Incidentally, this precise format was something my batchmates and I were contemplating a few months ago. Bring the B-school to the company's door and help employees in a much better manner. Good to see that someone has picked it up. Now the gold rush will start !!

2. Microsoft launched it's anti--spyware software.

3. Wired features Indian cops and technology. This gets slashdotted.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Daily Cartoon - 01/06/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20050146463107.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007506.gif

BCced to intended recepients.
Archive @ http://sudhir-lp.blogspot.com

Have you heard of BitTorrent ? ...

Read about the time I discovered BitTorrent.

According to analysts, BitTorrent traffic today constitutes one-third of internet traffic ! BitTorrent is an amalingly beautiful p2p (peer-to-peer) protocol that helps one to download *huge* files at amzing speeds. What could take hours thru' the famed Kaaza could be done if a few minutes via BitTorrent.

The "philosophy" behind the design is relatively simple (so to say).

"...

The problem with P2P file-sharing networks like Kazaa, he reasoned, is that uploading and downloading do not happen at equal speeds. Broadband providers allow their users to download at superfast rates, but let them upload only very slowly, creating a bottleneck: If two peers try to swap a compressed copy of Meet the Fokkers - say, 700 megs - the recipient will receive at a speedy 1.5 megs a second, but the sender will be uploading at maybe one-tenth of that rate. Thus, one-to-one swapping online is inherently inefficient. It's fine for MP3s but doesn't work for huge files.

Cohen realized that chopping up a file and handing out the pieces to several uploaders would really speed things up. He sketched out a protocol: To download that copy of Meet the Fokkers, a user's computer sniffs around for others online who have pieces of the movie. Then it downloads a chunk from several of them simultaneously. Many hands make light work, so the file arrives dozens of times faster than normal.

..."


To understand the technology and the extreme genius author Bram Cohen a bit more, read "The BitTorrent Effect" from Wired.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Find out how much time folks at Google Inc. supposedly spend on the web

Visit http://intelligence.visitorville.com/company.php?co=Google+Inc.

To know how VisitorVille tracks such usage, read this.

Daily Cartoon - 01/05/05

http://www.dilbert.com/comics/dilbert/archive/images/dilbert20051830790106.gif
http://www.userfriendly.org/cartoons/archives/05jan/xuf007505.gif

BCced to intended recepients.
Archive @ http://sudhir-lp.blogspot.com

For those who wonder how I read blogs ...

I don't have the habit of visiting the blogger's site unless I have a comment to pass on. I usually use RSS/ATOM feeds to pull the posts to my desktop (much like POP for email). This makes life very easy for me and saves me a lot of time. Here are some snapshots while using such software.

FeedDemon (commercial, $30)

reading-blogs

Thunderbird (free, $0)

reading-blogs-2

In case you need more info on how to use Thunderbird to read Blogs, read my earlier post.

For more information on what RSS/ATOM is or how they work, read my writeup. This writeup contains inputs on various other free RSS/ATOM readers. One free online service that isn't mentioned there, but that deserves to get added is BlogLines. It's an online aggregator and functions (at the outset) just like a desktop reader.