Microsoft Gets into Robotics – Cover up for an experiment on Pingbacks

June 22, 2006

More on Robert Scoble's page. Actually this is just a test page to see how Pingbacks work. Experimentation is the surest way to understanding!

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Skype goes free: But who really cares about the end customer?

May 16, 2006

Fantastic. Atleast for the folks in between the Pacific and the Atlantic. Skype just announced that all calls made from the continental US and terminating within the same geography will be free. Gratis. No hidden costs, no nothing.

This sort of brings up an interesting thought. Skype prides itself on the fact that they’ve been largely successful in unifying global rates in an attempt to simplify using their VOIP system – “It doesn’t matter where you call from”, they affirm, “It’s where you call to”.

So if Skype can offer free calls to the US and Canada, why can’t it be free for everyone else (and hence be in line with their marketing spiel). After all, North America has very very low call termination charges (which is why skype can offer this promotion). It’s another entirely different matter that this, if successful, will probably be one of the greatest (and most cost effective) marketing tactics of all time.

The sad truth, is the fact that local operators in other countries will cause all hell to break loose if something like that happened. Imagine, calling the US for Zilch instead of forking out 7.2 rupees per minute. Fantastic, if you’re a customer. Not so great if you’re Airtel.

But that’s where I have my problem. Why the hell should a service provider with his own minor vested interests be assuaged, idemnified and protected by the government? I mean, yes, they have made an upfront investment and all that yada yada. But this is business. And business is fickle and has a full complement of inherent risks. Too bad if a wrong investment was made. Customers can not be made to pay the price for bad investment decisions on the part of a self serving business.

I’m pretty sure I’m missing something in all of this. But what the hell. Can I have my free calls. Please?

The Catalunya Post Mortem – El desastre español

May 15, 2006

Sigh. Formula 1 has the power to humble you like nothing else in life (Let’s leave aside mathematics, shall we?).

Exactly one week ago marked the re(d)surgence of Ferrari. Everyone spoke of their genius pilot and how he was going to overhaul the incumbent Alphonso and waltz away with yet another world championship. Then Barcelona happened. Sigh. How humbling.

In a sense, the Catalunya result should not be surprising. Renault, still have the best car. We are not talking big margins, no, but in Catalunya the smallest differences are biggest magnified – A marginally superior car ends up being appreciably quicker.

The reason, then, for my extreme disappointment is the fact that Ferrari did look rather strong over the weekend. You see, there was hope. Yes, this was Renault territory. Yes, this was a Michelin circuit. Yes, a Spanish world champion was driving in front of his fervent countrymen. But there was that darned hope. Both Friday Practices demonstrated that the reds had the pace. Okay, they qualified 3rd, but it was overtly clear that the Ferrari’s were heavy. They were on hard tyres. They would run long and leverage their awesome long run pace. They held strategic high ground. The Renaults were minced meat. Renault was the hapless bull while Ferrari was the deft, sublime Enrique Ponce. Right?

Wrong. We couldn’t have been farther away from reality. Ponce got gored. Michael himself was mystified, and while he admitted that the Renault pace was unrelenting, also emphasized that even minor, capricious factors like wind direction and temperature (which was hotter than expected) can have substantial performance repercussions. And these substantial repercussions ensured that the Spanish mango won at home. And what a crushing victory it was.

Is all hope lost, then? Not really. Felipe had his moment of glory when he set the fastest lap (I only wish he had overhauled Fisi). Ferrari is still very much in the thick of things. it’s just that the momentum has swung a little bit away.

Monaco in 2 weeks. How long has it been since a Renault failure?

Ps: Although my tone suggests it, I don’t dislike Fernando. He’s awesome. Truly so. It’s just that I’m just a bigger Michael fan. Sue me!

Gmail: To dot or not?

May 14, 2006
Uncreative, random headings aside, this phenomenon is pretty neat. Discovered it a while ago, and while I had meant to write about it earlier (no, I really mean that… okay, maybe not. must you always be this picky?) I never actually got around doing so. Yeah, tell me something new.

So, anyways, this goes back to the early days of the perpetually in beta gmail. Yeah, these were the painful days of 2 mb mailboxes, garish, huge and annoying banner ads promoting nonsensical wares and unending spam featuring penis enlargement kits and what have you not. Gmail, with it’s promise of a 1 gb limit (gasp! how much is that!?!?), text ads (yeah, who cares if my email is scanned and read. I’m Indian. We live in large, gossip hungry families. Privacy? what on earth does that mean?) and enhanced spam blocking (well, spam was the only email I ever got. So it would be dearly missed. But we digress…) was sure to revolutionize web email.

But like all things good, there was a catch – you had to get invited. #%@^#@? yeah, that was my exact same reaction (if you’re female, give me a call. we might share a wavelength). So after weeks and weeks of searching, worshiping and displaying admirable levels of sycophantic behaviour (featuring unpublishable stuff) and other things such towards people who had gmail invites, I finally landed an invitation to my very own shiny, new gmail account.

As an early adopter, I had virtually no problem choosing an email address of choice (unlike yahoo where my best shot for kaushikmohan@yahoo.com is kaushikmohan_meister_73284738@yahoo.com and msn where it is a shite side worse!). (drum roll) kaushikmohan@gmail.com (flourish) was hence the new email address.

And then like all things new and exclusive, eventually everybody and her dog got a gmail address (by which time it was public knowledge the “.” was an accepted character in an email address, finally supplanting the inelegant but effective underscore). The standard email address, hence became firstname.lastname@gmail.com . Damn, I was the pariah. again.

But this is the cool thing. the dot does not matter. You see, because the firstname, lastname with a dot in the middle paradigm became the subconscious choice for anybody’s email address, people started emailing me at kaushik.mohan@gmail.com (yes, by this time legitimate email had miraculously started arriving in my inbox). And (even more miraculous) these (email featuring the incorrect dot version of my email address) would come straight into my inbox.

So the experimenter in me woke up, and I tried doing some random stuff.The discovery was quite cool. according to gmail, k.aushikmohan, ka….ushikmohan and kaushikmohan are all the same. In effect, gmail treats the dot as a mere visual separator. To the piece of code that actually parses the address, the dot is replaced by a null character. The dot is therefore, irrelevant. How incredibly profound 🙂

Sashman also did his own set of (more adventurous, multiple dot) experiments and came to the same conclusion.

Interesting ain’t it? My guess is that email addresses are parsed through some sort of LIFO system (I always try and sound remotely intelligent atleast once in every blog posting), that nullify’s all the dots that precede the ‘@’ symbol. Who knows, perhaps there are other characters that are handled in a similar fashion.

It’s quirky, even geeky perhaps. But I still think it’s pretty cool.

Because Consultants will Rant – # 1

April 28, 2006

The Simple Analyst (who happens to be a good friend of mine) and I had an interesting series of email conversations on the future of enterprise software. What is funny, strange and perhaps even ironic is the fact that none of us are part of the genus that has come to be known as ‘the Software types’. One’s a business grad (and hence knows very little) and I’m a victim of engineering (and hence know nothing at all). But we’re technocrats and are suppossedly Strategy Consultants . And consultants have the license to speak and opine on any topic. Don’t ask me why, thats just how it is.

So, the analyst conjures up this document from Booz that talks of the changing landscape in enterprise software.

What, according to me, it comes down to is this:

BEGIN:Rant

With the rising outlook of solutions architected on SOA (google it! I’m going to be the acronym obssessed, ever annoying consultant) and such frameworks as well as the mainstream arrival of Open Source Software, CIO’s will increasingly gravitate to using these open source ‘modules’ in their applications. This will crash development time as well as reduce costs.

The days of monolithic software are numbered. Primarily because the economics don’t pan out.

So, all in all, the software landscape will orient itself to two major phenomena:

1)‘On Demand’ solutions for SMB’s, with annual ‘per seat’ subscription fees (a la salesforce.com, netsuite etc.).

2) Open Source ‘Modules’ implemented in an SOA environment for large enterprises.

The analyst adds that legacy systems will still be used extensively. Perhaps, but I guess they will be ‘adaptorized’ and integrated into the larger SOA framework.

END:rant

Crap. what a boring blog post. I’m seriously begining to lose it. aargh. The curse of the software types is upon me. oxCAFEBABE 🙂

LBOs are only going to get bigger — here’s why

April 3, 2006

Scary proposition – 2005 saw an unheralded USD200 Billion spent on an estimated 845 LBO deals. Crazy, not just because of the scale of money thats being spent in taking public companies private, but because of the scorching growth in spend – We're talking of numbers that have more than doubled over the last 2 years (which is a trend that, curiously and sadly, my salary has chosen not to follow).

All of this, ofcourse, is symptomatic of a global resurgence in the worlds' economies (note to salary: where's your resurgence, you little dipshit?). With investor confidence this high and the growth of Private Equity firms kitties, it looks like this is a wave that we are going to ride for some more time.

Ps:Investor confidence is a wonderful thing. But this confidence is also fickle. And investors hate fickle things. And fickle things cut investor confidence. Therefore, the investor is his own enemy. er… whatever!

Windows Live: Microsoft’s Web 2.0 Strategy

January 20, 2006

Paul Thurrott's take on Microsoft's new live strategy is interesting. It's a good thing, for most part, that the behemoth has finally awaken to the web 2.0 world. I'm pretty sure Ray Ozzie is the architect of the vision, which is good too, because he truly understands the internet and its potential.

How it will all pan out is subject to tons of conjecture, but I'll stick my neck out – Microsoft will prevail. Their preponderance in terms of Cash and expertise is unparalleled. Oh yes, they also own the platform and are pushing the envelope (and no, I'm not poking fun) on the platform side. Vista's new WinFX platform coupled with the Indigo framework will for the first time enable immersive & rich web apps that rival their client side counter parts.

AJAX is good, but the future platforms will offer tons more. Security will be an issue (we know how Swiss cheese like windows is because of supposed 'Features', but something tells me that this time round, Microsoft has it's bases covered).

Time, of course, will tell. But as a consumer I couldn't be more thrilled. The future's going to be good. Really really good.

Read more at www.winsupersite.com/re…

Intentionally Left Blank :)

June 5, 2005