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Wireless Utopia

The journey towards a free wireless world.

Open Source Century

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

How can you connect the Office, Open Source Software and Blogs? We'll Paul Graham does a great job of it and shows us how they intersect each other. Few key points.
  • People work harder when they are creating value for themselves.
  • Offices are the last place you would find people working.
  • Employer-Employee relationship will be replaced with a purely economic contract in the long run.
  • Professionalism is a out. Ametuer'ism is in!
These are very revolutionary ideas indeed and its hard to see businesses adopting them. Google is the only corporate which has adopted these principles to some extent. And if they do succeed in the long run, others will also start doing this. I would definately want to do it in my startup.

Opensource is a Darwinian concept. And it will have profound impact on the next technology century. As said in the article, its very diffcult to create an idea which can spwan business models of its own. Opensource is one such idea.

Tags: OSS Paul Graham Google Startup Blogs
posted by Rajiv, 2:28 AM | link | 0 comments |

QC Media

Monday, March 27, 2006

An article on QC's Media FLO in Business Week. Qualcomm has spun off Media FLO as a seperate unit and its behaving like more of a Media Company than a technology one. The marketing pitch of Media FLO is no doubt impressive. The industry is betting big on the ability to watch TV programs on your handsets. The skeptical are pointing out that the screen is too small and the sound system too primitive for it to give any serious competition to the idiot box. But everybody admits that a streaming TV on the mobile can be very useful for people on the move. Personally, if I would love to watch all the cricket matches that I miss in office, on my mobile!

As a technology, Media FLO is very impressive as well. The FLO stands for Forward Link Only. Since the idea is to broadcast the signals to all the mobiles, the Base stations will act as the Terresterial TV towers. The Gold version uses OFDM modulation for transmiting the data. The platinum version never actually took off. The idea is to multiplex the OFDM channels on the forward link of EVDO (the pilot bursts are still CDMA) and then use soft combining at the mobile to build up the streaming video packets. A very complex technology which will require manual replacement of the hardware at the base station. Since QC is rolling out its own network, that should not be a problem at all.

Maybe the deployment will mark QC's entry into the Service Provider's market as well as its debut at a media company. A big gamble for a well established company to take. But with the change of guard at the helm, such things are expected.

Previous Post: QC's Halo.

Update: A word of caution from analysts.

Tags: QC Media FLO EVDO OFDM
posted by Rajiv, 11:39 PM | link | 0 comments |

Baby Steps

News of a wireless mesh networking startup getting funding from Intel Capital. Mesh Networks are proliferating at a very rapid pace. The Military uses it for collecting data where the sensors from an Ad Hoc network amongst themselves. When Katrina hit, people used meshes to build commincation networks. The WiMAX standard has built in support for Mesh Networking to connect the base stations. The OLPC plans to use it in to connect the computers using WiFi. MANET's working group, even though bogged down with politics and controversy, is working on QoS over these Ad Hoc networks.

Someday we'll be able to do voice over such networks. That day maybe we'll not need the telcos. at all! A wonderful promise.

PS: My company's proxy server blocks Arch Rock website. Its classified as a p0rn site!

Tags: Mesh Networks Arch Rock Intel Capital Katrina WiMAX MANET OLPC WiFi QoS
posted by Rajiv, 11:09 PM | link | 0 comments |

Open Source Web

The Newsweek has finally woken up to the new meme in Silicon Valley with a detailed feature on the Web 2.0. All the happening name's of the Web 2.0 companies, MySpace, Flickr, Wikipedia, YouTube, Del.ico.us etc. find a honorable mention in it. It acknowledges the fact that the technology behind Web 2.0 essentially has been there for quite some time; its spreading because of the necessity to improve the user experience. More importantly it points out that the its more of Live Web where user generated content is the key driving factor. And its the users who organize the information via tagging so that it can be easily found by others. The Wisdom of the crowd plays a crucial role here.

Fundamentally this concept is central to the Open Source movement. It leverages upon the collective wisdom of the community in decision making process and takes in contributions from anyone who is willing to provide it. The Bazaar, as its called, provides all the richness and value that an OSS software provides. The Open Source model has been applied to other fields as well and the Web 2.0 is also just another example. What we are witnessing is a movement which will change the way we use and perceive internet. Something similar to what OSS had done for software in general.

The Web is definately opening up.

Previous Posts: Managed Open Source. Hard Truths. OSS Crystal Gazing.

Tags: Web 2.0 Live Web My Space Flickr Wikipedia Open Source OSS
posted by Rajiv, 4:55 AM | link | 0 comments |

Online Bribes

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I never imagined in my dreams that I would live to see this. The Indian Government has opened a Greviance Center for the citizens and has made it accessible online! Things surely are changing in India.

The only problem now is, does anyone bothers to check these complaints at all? Maybe they sould have e-commerce module where the bribes can be paid online as well. It will surely work then.

Via: Vivek.

Tags: India E-Governance
posted by Rajiv, 4:46 AM | link | 0 comments |

EVDO Handhelds

The availability of EVDO capable handsets has been one of the primary reasons why EVDO networks have not really been able to market it. The wireless cards target only the corporate user. Its the handheld's where the real moolah lies. Although the QC hybrid MSM chipsets, which use 3G1X for voice and EVDO for data have been on the market for some time, it has not really translated into ready availablity of EVDO handsets.

So OQO's news that its going to support EVDO is a welcome relief. Having a broad band wireless connection with this device could really make this a useful thing to have. When Rev A is deployed it will have voice capability as well. Mobile Phones then will have a good competitor then.

Tags: OQO EVDO RevA 3G1X Qualcomm VoIP Mobile Phone
posted by Rajiv, 2:43 AM | link | 0 comments |

MVNO Queueing Up

Content Surta informs us the MVNO's are gearing up to start off in the Indian Market. MVNO's are Telecom Operators who do not have any spectrum or license. They rent out the spectrum from someone who has bought it (eg. Airtel, Hutch) and provide premium services to users over their network. The Indian Mobile space has lots of space for such kind of operators. With the customer base expanding rapidly a market base has been created for high end users would be willing to pay for the premium services,. They would include customized handsets, more applications, better customer service, increased coverage etc.

Now we know why all mobile operators give sloppy services and still earn a ton of money. All the time they were creating this market!

Tags: MVNO India Mobile Phone Telecom Airtel Hutch Reliance

posted by Rajiv, 1:54 AM | link | 0 comments |

Digital Soul

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I suck big at two things. Carrom and computer games. But the latter is going to be the downfall for me if things turn out as Wired predicts. And I fully agree. It is evident from the popularity of online MMOG's. For the uninitiated, its a way of online life. For the non-gamers, its a something like your mail id, an identity. The difference is that the games actully use your actions to create the profile. So if you kill someone in the online world, it notes that and marks that in your profile. It keeps track of your likes and dislikes. It maintains a history of your online behaviour. Its your digitally created soul.

A generation of kids, from Korea to India, are actively playing these games. Go to any Reliance WebWorld cafe and you'll be surprised by the number of kids on it. For them its a way of life. As this generation grows up and enters the workforce, they will have a online digital identity which will be as valuable as their real world identity. The networks they make in the real world will be augumented by the networks made virtually. People like us who are not into online gaming will be outcasts.

But Google God is coming to the rescue of such people. Google stated goal is to organize the world information. And it includes personal information as well. Every search that is made on Google is archived in Google's database. Every AdSense ad clicked is noted down. The search history is maintianed and linked to your Google Account. And it contributes to your profile. The aim there is to maximize the probabality of you clicking an AdSense ad as it comes up in the GMail page or the search results page. So as to generate as much as possible revenues from them.

There are several other databases of which maintain profiles on behaviours. Sony, Nintendo and recently Microsoft either have or will create thier own systems. As generations grow up with gaming consoles, the online profile's applicablity will increase. One day these systems will be interconnected to each other as well. When that happens, the digital soul will be as important as the real world counterpart.

So jump on to the gaming bandwagon as soon as possible. Or lose out on natural selection.

Tags: Gaming MMOG Online Profile Goolge AdSense GMail
posted by Rajiv, 5:03 AM | link | 0 comments |

Power of Physics

A fascinating article about the Chaotic Inflation theory of Andrei Linde. He has been recently honoured 2004 Cosmology Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation. This is a good layman description of the theory.

Via: India Uncut

Tags: Big Bang Andrei Linde God Physics
posted by Rajiv, 4:45 AM | link | 0 comments |

Barcamp Bangalore

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

I was waiting for the Barcamp "unconference" in Bangalore and its finally happening. Going by the response seen in Barcamp Delhi and Barcamp Chennai this promises to be a real experience. Its now upon the Bangaloreans.

Rush to add your name and topic to the list. And gear up for a heavy networking session. Also join the mailing list for the discussion.

Tags: Barcampbangalore Barcamp Bangalore India
posted by Rajiv, 7:01 AM | link | 1 comments |

DOrA Skype

Monday, March 20, 2006

A news item announcing the Rev A capable cards for Sierra Wireless. Its pretty intriguing since these cards depend upon Qualcomm MSM chipsets for their functionality. Sierra basically is just into packaging business. But Qualcomm chipsets are not slated to come out till the first quarter of 07! The networks wont support full Rev A functionality till the third quarter of 07. In fact the standards for EMFPA required for VoIP over DORA has just been finialised. I guess what is missing in their release is the fact thats its only partial support for RevA.

So dont just expect to run Skype on your EVDO enabled laptop yet!

Update: Novatel announces its own version. Something is missing here. If the network is not going to be ready till fourth quarter of 07, why release these cards?

Tags: Sierra EVDO VoIP Qualcomm Skype
posted by Rajiv, 10:08 PM | link | 2 comments |

Managed Open Source

The Economist has an article examining the Open Source Models in detail. With the recent success of Firefox and MySQL the corporates are waking up to the reality that to remain competetive they need to embrace the model. That has lead to a recent spate in open source aqcuisitions and surge in interest in these projects. Thus the scrutiny from the Economist.

The article cites the examples of Firefox, Apache, MySQL and Wikipedia. Except for Wikipedia, all others have got good press from the media. Firefox has been appalauded for the way it has risen like a pheonix from the ashes of Netscape. Apache is the most popular web server application, hosting two out of every three sites on the internet and MySQL recently got acquired by Oracle. Wikipedia on the other hand landed up in a controversy because of a prank entry about a popular journalist!

The common factor between al these projects is the departure from the traditional open source development methodology. In OSS development everybody is allowed to examine, test and contribtue to the project. The management of the load line is minimal and the wisdom of the crowd is relied upon to reach a decesion. But at times this approach leads to chaos as illustrated in the article using the Wikipedia example. To avoid these problems, these OSS projects introduced very stringent management along the lines of a corporate closed source model.

The article attributes the success of these projects to such regulatory meachanisms. It emphasizes the fact that unless the downsides of the Bazaar model are managed properly, open source projects will lead to a mob mentality taking over. The perfect model thefore is a mix of both approaches, open and closed source. The management of the closed source model and the free source code of the open source. A typical example cited is MySQL.

The only surprising omission in this article but is GNU GIMP and Linux. Its one of the most successful open source projects which followed the Bazaar model. It had a core set of developers which made the key decesions but allowed everybody to contribute. Linux followed the typical OSS model as well which led to the many different variants. That in a way proved to be its biggest drawback!

Fundamentally open source model is, well, open. The source code is open, the use is open and the implementation is open. So is innovation. The successful projects have innovated with Open Source model itself, reataining the advantages and managing the downsides. The fact that OSS Model allows the flexiblity is its biggest strength.

Previous Posts: Hard Truths New Frontiers OSS Crystal Gazing

Tags: OSS Open Source Firefox Apache Wikipedia MySQL GIMP Linux
posted by Rajiv, 2:22 AM | link | 1 comments |

Fold From UK

Friday, March 17, 2006

Another AJAX homepage called Fold. Seems to developed by UK based developers. Not much different from Netvibes except for the look. Will they support an API is the question but.

Previous post: AJAX Homepages.

Tags: AJAX Fold Portal Web2.0
posted by Rajiv, 4:31 AM | link | 0 comments |

One Laptop Per Child

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Bill Gates is against it. Google supports it. Intel does not think very highly of it. Steve Jobs offered OS X for it. It runs on Red Hat Linux. Uses mesh networking for communication. Has a crank for power generation. Does not have a local disk. Its shock proof. Its a fluroscent green box. Its the $100 laptop. And it has everybody talking. It is a concept which has drawn boquets and brickbats. A revolutionary idea which can bring the benefits of learning to the underpreviliged. And which can change the world of networking.

If the children in Africa can talk to each other without the use of a ethernet, there's no reason why others cant.

Tags: OLPC Negroponte MANET Mesh Networks Google Microsoft Bill Gates
posted by Rajiv, 5:33 AM | link | 6 comments |

Precious

Gollum has resurfaced to reclaim its precious! For starters, GOLLUM is an link layer API standard for Wireless Devices. It is meant to provide a standard set of API's which the third part OEMs (the chipset providers) can implement and to be used by application developers. The intention seemingly is to target WCDMA devices although it will also supports WiFi and WiMAX standards. RUNES which stands for Reconfigureable Ubiquitous Networked Embedded System uses the Gollum framework.

The point to note here is that its primarily a EU driven project, where GSM is the predominant wireless technology and standardisation level is very high. This project takes the standardisation one level higher, into the embedded device itself. If successful it will open up the mobile device platform, which is headed for a major war. MS wants to replicate its desktop success here as well and has been pushing hard on its Windows Mobile offering. Thats also a reason why it support this project as well.

But it will be the support of the chipset majors (TI, ST and QC) for it to succeed.

Previous posts: Personal Hub BSoD Redux

Tags: GSM WCDMA Windows Mobile TI Qualcomm
posted by Rajiv, 4:42 AM | link | 0 comments |

Chinese Chequers

Monday, March 13, 2006

Two peices of related news. With Huawei and ZTE breaking into newer western markets thier credibility is getting a stamp of approval. Just goes to show how cost advantage can disrupt a loyal customer base and challenge the established order.

Another David vs Goliath in the making.

Update: China heading for a clash with QC.

Tags: Huawei ZTE TD-SCDMA Qualcomm Vodafone
posted by Rajiv, 6:10 AM | link | 0 comments |

Disruptive WiMAX

Om Mailk links to the OECD report on WiMAX. With impending WiMAX rollouts by the end of this year, the spotlight is clearly on it. The report focusses on the impact of WiMAX on the current wireless market in the OECD countries rather than the technology itself. The American market is not even mentioned once, but the conclusions apply equally. It attempts to give some perspectives on the debate about 3G and WiMAX. Here are some excerpts.

It starts off with a conclusion.
"WiMAX may prove to be a disruptive technology for the telecommunication sector but careful policy can ensure that the disruption creates the maximum benefit possible in the market."
This statement sums up the undercurrent in the report. The report tries to home in the point that spectrum usage will spell the success of WiMAX eventually and the impact of regulation is on the use of licensed or unlicensed spectrum.
"For example, if a rural wireless provider chooses to offer wireless services in the 5.8 GHz range, a competitor would be allowed to set up identical equipment using the same band and likely cause interference."
This interference could potentially render the service useless. Some operators have thus chosen to deploy WiMAX and 3G in tandem so as they compliment each other. It points out two examples of KTF and T Mobile where both the services are provided which one forming the fallback for the other.

It delves deeper into the debate about its disruptiveness.
"When people talk of WiMAX as a disruptive technology, often they are referring to the impacts WiMAX is likely to have on traditional fixed and mobile telecommunication networks."
For that to happen, WiMAX has to match the services provided by these networks. It does have the capability of outdo the data part, but what about voice? Will users be able to use Skype and Vonage on thier devices? The answer lies in the support of QoS in WiMAX.
"The initial 802.16-2004 standard includes QoS but does not include definitive instructions on how it should be implemented."
HSDPA and DORA already have full QoS support with the core network based upon IMS. The latencies and delays have been carefully engineered so as to enable voice and video streaming. In the long run, the support for QoS or the lack of it may result in WiMAX being relegated to be used only for aysnchornous data traffic. But then a patchy service, which is free, would still be popular over a paid service.

Interconnectivity to PSTN and PLMN domains will also be a key factor.
"ISPs offering WiMAX connections will need the ability to interconnect to Internet exchanges, and likely to the PSTN if they are providing VoIP services."
Advanced IN services would have to be built on top so as to attract users. It will ultimately be its ability to encroach upon markets catered to by traditional mobile networks will determine its disruptiveness.

In the long run it a lot will depend upon the its popularity amongst end users. The cost effectiveness and ubiquitous coverage of WiMAX may prove to be its biggest strength. Once the security and privacy concerns are addressed, the Operators will have no choice but to embrace it once it goes mainsteam. With 3G rollout also in progress, the timing is perfect for introduction of such a technology.

Pervious posts on WiMAX: Mobile Routers Promise of WiMAX

Update 1: TMobile's announcement of the service mentioned in the report.

Update 2: WiMAX and FlashOFDM finds a mention in Technology Review.

Update 3: Aclatel's take on WiMAX.

Tags: WiMAX OECD 3G EVDO DORA HSDPA UMTS Spectrum VoIP OFDM QoS
posted by Rajiv, 4:50 AM | link | 0 comments |

Ubicomp Ruminations

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Ubiquitous computing envisages an age where every device has computing ability inbuilt and can talk to other devices. It integrates computing into the environment rather than having computers as discrete objects. It is known "Third Paradigm" in computing where technology recedes into the background of our lives. The first generation were the Mainframes which were shared by multiple users. It pawed the way for the desktop computing which brought computing power to the individual. The next wave is expected to be the era where every device can be a computer in itself.

Mobile ubiquitous computing refers to the term where mobile devices can be used to wirelessly connect to a network and access centrally located information. There are several devices notably the laptop and the mobile phone which are portable by nature and have an inherent ability to connect to a network. The third generation wireless technologies such as UMTS and EVDO and Wireless Ethernet technologies such as WiFi and WiMAX provide an infrastructure for these devices to connect wirelessly to the internet.

With the internet moving towards becoming one big Operating System one can extend this concept to move the bulk of computing from the device to the internet itself. The device can be built to have minimum computing power which is suffecient to connect to the internet. Such devices are called Network Computers. Network Computers in conjunction with the Internet can be used to provide the user with a pervasive computing experience. It can be an Ubicomp for the user.

Such a device would also have to aim to be the convergence device for the user. It would have to provide all functionalities provided by mobile phones, laptops, PDA’s, portable music players and personal game consoles in the long run. It would also have to be an ultra mobile device as well with a small form factor. The challenges involved in creating such a device would include vision, design, hardware and software content. It will take several attempts before one can come up with the devenitive device. There have been several attempts at the convergence device, the latest being Microsoft's Origami.

The concept of ubicomp is central to the vision of an interconnected world. With more and more devices having inbuilt computing power, the computing power available to an individual is increasing. The challenge lies in connecting these devices together.

Tags: Ubicomp Mobile Computing Origami Pervasive Computing Internet OS Network Computer
posted by Rajiv, 4:14 AM | link | 0 comments |

Robson and Linux

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Intel unveiled its next generation laptop platform based upon its dual core chips. With AMD snapping at its heels, and its customer base, Intel had to come up with something superior. Its a new approach where NAND Flash based storage will be used to speed up the boot up times. This technology is already used in Mobile Phones. The cost of NAND memory is the prohibhitive factor but. Sequential access is another problem area.

But such an architeture would be suitable for a microcontroller based OS where the kernel resides in the flash memroy and the rest of the apps in the hard drive. Its a perfect fit for uClinux.

Update: Video of Robson in ZDNet. Via Digg.

From this year's Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco, CNET's Justin Jaffe gives a first look at the new Ultra Mobile PC.

read more | digg story

Update 2: Intel is also doing WiMAX now. Since they wont be supporting 3G yet, this would give a good boost to WiMAX. Via Wired.

Pervious posts on WiMAX. Mobile Routers. Promise Of WiMAX.

Tags: Intel Robson NAND Flash AMD uClinux WiMAX 3G
posted by Rajiv, 3:43 AM | link | 0 comments |

Personal Hub

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Mike at Techdirt links to two fascinating articles on mobile content. Consider this following statement.
"In South Korea, the Economist reported recently, you can walk into a cafe, read the menu on your cell phone, order two cappuccinos, pay electronically and transfer the receipt to your phone bill."
South Korea and Japan are two markets which are way ahead in terms to 3G and even 4G technology adoption. Vodafone recently quit from the Japanese Market selling its stake. It simply could not compete in these markets. If rest of the world follows suit, its evident that mobiles will become the personal hub for the next generation. The mobile phone will become the ubicomp. No wonder Microsoft is pushing so hard for its Windows Mobile and the Origami Project.

It will be interesting on how other three contendors, Linux, Palm and Symbian perform.

Update: Seems like Motorola has something similar already in the works.

Tags: Mobile Content 3G Windows Mobile Origami OS Linux Palm Symbian

posted by Rajiv, 1:13 AM | link | 0 comments |

VoRIM

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

RIM has joined the VoIP bandwagon. The Blackberry can now support VoIP calls routed through an IP-PBX via SIP. Its another addition to the dual mode WiFi/GSM phone. But discounting the cost advantage, the call quality on a packet switched network is still pacthy. Till the internet can provide full QoS support they are likely to stay that way. Until then the circuit switched network which was designed specifically for voice traffic will still be the preferred choice. The basic functionality of a phone is to do voice. Till the 2G networks are around, they'll be in use.

A fully IP enabled 3G network with a voice quality comparable to the 2G network is currently the Holy Grail of 3G. Nobody knows how good its going to work out!

Tags: RIM VoIP WiFi 3G QoS SIP WLAN
posted by Rajiv, 4:14 AM | link | 2 comments |

Blank Noise Project

Monday, March 06, 2006

A commendable effort from the Indian Blogosphere about Sexual Harassment in Public places. It is a reality that we encounter on a day to day basis. We are either a victim or a slient spectator. A vast majority are the perpetrators as well. The chalta hai attitude has fostered it even more, to the point that it has become a day to day affair for them, a part of life, a reality of living in Indian cities. The shameful part is we do not even want to stand up against it. It is a guilt that everyone of us carries. So much for chivalry.

My last brush with it happened about a year ago in Brigade Road. Brigade Road is to Bangalore what Connaught Place is to Delhi, Leicester Square is to London and Time Square is to New York. Its is the waterhole of the city with swanky shops and illuminated hoardings all around. During the weekend evenings the place fills up to the brim with shoppers and young couples roaming around, having a nice time. Its a mass of humanity moving in all possible directions.

This makes it the favorite haunt for gropers and eve teasers alike. The crowd is a perfect cover for them. After all when you are surrounded with people from all sides, you cannot avoid physical contact. And its the women and girls who suffer. As any Bangalorean will tell you, crossing the Brigade Road on foot on a Staurday night is a horrible experience. Being new to Bangalore I was unaware of this till one day I had to take my friend out to Rex for a Staurday Night movie.

My friend also happened to be one of the most stunning and attractive people I had ever known. Although she was past her prime, she still was a head turner wherever she went. She was used to all the attention she got and managed it perfectly well. But it was something more she attracted that day. A middle aged man coming from the other side bumped right into her and went straight for her crotch. Bumping into someone was not an unusual thing to happen given the crowd and the thought didnt even cross my mind that the guy was upto something else. But before she could react the guy had gone past and mingled into the crowd.

She was incensed. She felt voialated. She felt angry. She was on the verge of tears. And I stood there helpless since it was impossible to find that guy out in the crowd. Going after him would have meant leaving her stranded in middle of Brigade Road. That in itself is a scary thought. We couldnt do much. I calmed her down, fed her a ice-cream, cheered her up with the prospect of the movie and the rest of the evening went off without another untoward incident.

But today I am taking this opportunity to come clean with it. If you are reading this Pooja, then I am sorry. I am sorry that you had to feel that way because some men are just too perverted to fit into rest of humanity. Hope you can forgive us.

PS: Do read this moving post from Annie, one of my favorite bloggers.

Tags: Blog-A-Thon
posted by Rajiv, 3:48 AM | link | 12 comments |

Mobile Power

News about a new battery technology out of the blue. The Fuel Cell technology was till now being looked up to provide some much needed relief. It has been predicted that nano fuel cells are the future for portable power source for mobile phones and laptops. The application of the same technology has now enabled the good old lithium ion battery to pack more punch. Nanotechnology is amongst the hottest technologies which are supposed to change our lifestyle radically, from cleaning bathrooms to space travel.

Keep an eye out for more such news.

Update: Slashdot informs that Fuel Cells for Laptops are on the way.

Tags: Nanotechnology Fuel Cell Mobiles Laptop
posted by Rajiv, 2:42 AM | link | 0 comments |

Charge of the SIP Brigade

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Aswath informs us that the bosses at Cisco have announced that SIP has been embraced. With IMS taking over the the 3G core network functionalities, SIP is being touted as the new age protocol which will be used to initiate all kinds of mulitmedia sessions. Its ironic that the telcos who came up with H.323 at the first place have chosen SIP, an IETF protocol. Generally all the telecom protocols are ASN.1 compliant and follow TLV format. SIP on the other hand is a text based protocol. There are no numbers associated with the message elements. The entities talk to each other in a human language, American English to be precise (color, not colour!), whereas the machines actually understand only 1 and 0's. A new approach altogether.

Its only the begining of machines moving away from the binary system. As they evolve, they'll form new and effecient mechanisms of dialouge and one day become our overlords.

Update: The article in question is now linked by Memorandum. A day late!

Tags: Cisco SIP H.323 VoIP IMS
posted by Rajiv, 11:51 PM | link | 0 comments |

Inspiring Story

Poineer gives K J Rao his due. The so called indian mass media has completely ignored this peice of news. So much for a free media.

Tags: India
posted by Rajiv, 2:51 AM | link | 0 comments |

Hard Truths

Thursday, March 02, 2006

An article from the O'Reilly group which explore's the differences between the open source and closed source development models. For the uinitiated, primer of OSS model can be found here. Some very hard hitting truths lie in there and the contrasts are are laid out in the open.

First up is the the principle of honesty in software development.
"It's not just developers who are tempted to stretch the truth. A vice president or CTO may announce that a product will be done in a month, when everyone (well, everyone but the customers) knows it won't."
The customers are the God and the provider in the corporate world. They dictate terms and you cannot argue with them. To keep them happy you either have to give in to thier demands or risk losing your business. Being honest might be the right and ethical thing to do. And if you're lucky you might get some brownie points for that. But the bottomline is that you lose out on business.

The role of a people manager in corporate projects has been the butt of jokes amongst the developers. They have a set and well defined role. To manage the manpower. Assign work to them and lay out their schedules. Essentially treat them as objects! In OSS however every user is treated as an "eye ball" and every eye ball is a contributor. The theory goes that given enough eye balls, every bug is shallow.
"In contrast, managers associated with many corporate software projects will hand down decisions to the team without consulting them at all."
Which is the exact brief of thier job and works well for an assembly line manufacturing. Its questionable whether the same approach works for software development as well. The jury is still out on that.

Another contentious topic is reviews. Any technical guy will tell you that more defects are found in reviews than during testing. Only if you can get the code reviewed in the first place but.
"Yet in many corporate projects, it is nearly impossible to get the time to perform reviews."
But reviews are still not a high priority work. They are still considered underproductive although all studies point otherwise. The managers still prefer to assign documenting, coding and testing work and the emphasis is hardly on reviews. Throughout my professional career, I am yet to encounter a work category called reviews! Open source projects on the other hand ensures that each peice of code is gone through with finesse and commented upon.

Once you do manage to cross this hurdle, other issues crop up.
"when a person's livelihood is attached to his work, then he may not want his "mistakes" to be shown off to the rest of the team"
There's the catch to being honest in your work. You inadvertently have to pay for it. If you are ready for the repurcussions, and brave enough, then maybe you'll take chance. But on a bad day at office the witch hunt will surely get you.

OSS model follows a loosely coupled team model. Roles are defined but not on a seniority basis. An excellent example is also illustrated along the way. During the development of EMacs a big community of developers contributed to it. It turned out that one respectable contributor was a 13 year old living with his parents! Something that cannot happen in a corporate projects. Even when a junior member brings up an issue he has to be careful to put it at the right forum, to follow the proper channel! Hardly encouraging for a new joinee.

Research has shown that only one third of corporate projects are considered successful. By any industry standards that would be considered to be a miserable failure. Yet the corporate world is oblivious to this fact. But signs of change are on the horizon. Consider the case of recent spate of acquistions of open source companies. Slowly the realisation is dawning that OSS model can complement the inhouse software development model and enhance your competetiveness. Maybe the two poles can be brought together and a new mixed model will produce better results.

Ironically its again the customers who are causing this shift!

Tags: OSS

Previous posts: Project Higgins. New Frontiers. OSS Cryastal Gazing. Sex Appeal of Open Source.

Further Reading: CatB.
posted by Rajiv, 5:51 AM | link | 0 comments |

Fear Factor

Slashdot reports that the NZ authorities are wary of using Open Source software. Seems that Microsoft's campaign against OSS is starting to show some results. Watch out for some more news articles from others making the same noises. Speaking of fear someone should point out to the security vulnerablities that MS products or any other closed source products pose. In my mind till now there hasnt been a single case where the user has had to pay or face legal actions against him for using Open Source products. And within the US the state authorities are moving towards ODF. Its a misplaced concern to start with. But the scare tactics are working.

The heads at Redmond sure have figured out a good strategy.

Tags: Microsoft OpenSource ODF FUD
posted by Rajiv, 3:23 AM | link | 0 comments |

Bluetooth Blues

I am not a very heavy user of BlueTooth. I used it only once when I had to transfer pics from mine to my friends phone and I found it clumsy. First you have to enable it, then type in a code then send the data. The guy on the other hand will get a notification, type in the same code and then will get the pic. After that you are supposed to turn it off. I forgot that. And I got several notification of pics received. The first time it happened, I got excited, hoping that maybe its a good pic. And then I realised, that could be a virus as well!

Now I get to know that there is something called BlueJack as well. Not surprising.

Tags: BlueTooth Wireless Mobile Phones BlueJack
posted by Rajiv, 1:08 AM | link | 0 comments |

Customary Origami Post

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A quick primer in BBC news on Origami. If you dont know about it yet, then i'd suggest that you keep monitoring Slashdot, Digg and Tech Memorandum. It appeared first on Digg, then on Tech Memorandum and finally on Slashdot. After that it has kicked off a virtual storm in blogosphere. You got to give it to Microsoft for creating the hype and not commiting on when it will be launched. But then every move of MS is closely watched.

What appears is that it is a handheld device with some of the hottest technologies. WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, you name it and they have it. Not clear about HSDPA/EVDO, but will be pretty cool to have it. Most probably also has ambitions of becoming the convergence device as well. With so many desriables already on the list, now we have another device to contend with. Things just keep on getting intersting.

My hunch is that it is a Network Computer. Lets wait and watch.

Tags: Origami Microsoft WiFi Bluetooth GPS HSDPA EVDO Convergence
posted by Rajiv, 7:30 AM | link | 0 comments |