27 January, 2005

Tomorrow’s Search Technologies -Rajesh Jain
Search has become a window to the world wide web of data. Today’s search is simplistic: type a few words in a box, get back zillions of results, and click on one or more of the results to see if we get what we are looking for. Think of today’s search as the DOS era: a good start, but not enough to unleash the real power of what can be. It took a decade to go from DOS to Windows. It has taken us almost as long to start imagining and working towards the next generation of search technologies. Here are some key ideas which will help define tomorrow’s search:

  • Integration between Desktop and Internet Search

  • Better Visualisation and Navigation Tools

  • Real-time Search

  • Searchstreams Analysis

  • Multimedia Search

  • Mobile Devices

  • Local Search

  • Vertical Search

Animal-Human Hybrids Spark Controversy -National Geographic
Chinese scientists at the Shanghai Second Medical University in 2003 successfully fused human cells with rabbit eggs. The embryos were reportedly the first human-animal chimeras successfully created. They were allowed to develop for several days in a laboratory dish before the scientists destroyed the embryos to harvest their stem cells.

In Minnesota last year researchers at the Mayo Clinic created pigs with human blood flowing through their bodies. And at Stanford University in California an experiment might be done later this year to create mice with human brains.

Scientists feel that, the more humanlike the animal, the better research model it makes for testing drugs or possibly growing 'spare parts,' such as livers, to transplant into humans.

An experiment that would raise concerns, he said, is genetically engineering mice to produce human sperm and eggs, then doing in vitro fertilization to produce a child whose parents are a pair of mice.

Weissman has already created mice with brains that are about one percent human. Later this year he may conduct another experiment where the mice have 100 percent human brains. This would be done, he said, by injecting human neurons into the brains of embryonic mice. Before being born, the mice would be killed and dissected to see if the architecture of a human brain had formed. If it did, he'd look for traces of human cognitive behavior.
The broadband revolution's coming -ZdNet:
This article talks about all the current and in-the-near-future broadband technologies right from EDGE to EVDO, net through power lines, wireless and wired broadband etc.
New Markets(middle class) for Future Technologies -Rajesh Jain
As we look ahead to 2005, the rapidly converging areas of computing, communications and consumer electronics are creating an unprecedented set of opportunities – and threats. My belief – which has got reinforced over the past year – is that it will be the emerging markets like India will define future technologies in the. While the top 10% of these markets are just like their counterparts in developed markets (the “top of the pyramid”), there is a big chasm which separates the top from the middle.

It is this chasm which presents an opportunity for entrepreneurs and established companies. Entrepreneurs in India have a great opportunity. As India’s consumer class burgeons, there is an opportunity to not just provide solutions to them but also propagate these solutions to other emerging markets globally. India serves as a laboratory to try out innovations and a large, first market.
Microsoft: Legit Windows or no updates! -ZdNet:
Aiming to crack down on counterfeit software, Microsoft plans later this year to require customers to verify that their copy of Windows is genuine before downloading security patches and other add-ons to the operating system. People whose copies are found not to be legitimate can get a discount on a genuine copy of Windows.

Historically, Microsoft has trod carefully when it comes to crackdowns, particularly in emerging markets. Though clearly eyeing growth, the company has not wanted to push too hard in countries where piracy is rampant, and thereby force customers toward Linux. Also, some say that by threatening to withhold security updates, Microsoft is making the entire Internet less secure, harming legitimate customers as well.

In an effort to placate that concern, Microsoft will allow those with unlicensed copies of Windows to continue getting security patches by turning on Windows' Automatic Update feature.

25 January, 2005

Indian IT industry has failed to realise the potential of domestic requirements -ZDNet:
Developing IT applications for the domestic market has always been a priority area for CMC Ltd. First as a public sector company, and now as part of the Tata group. Developing IT solutions for the local market contributes towards making India an IT-savvy nation. Unless the local Indian market is developed, India will remain a country with islands of IT excellence. The country's infrastructure, manufacturing, social and service sectors need new and innovative applications, argues Mr Ghosh, who retired as managing director and chief executive officer of CMC after a 25-year stint in the company. Excerpts from the interview:

  • Please specify the areas where local companies must focus on, to develop applications?
Development of applications in local language could be one area and IT-based education delivery could be another. What is being done to eradicate illiteracy? The Indian companies should apply themselves to create solutions related to mass applications of IT. It could be in the education segment or in the operation of transport system in metros and cities. We have to plan to develop new applications so that the quality of life of an ordinary Indian improves.
  • Do you think the IT industry has a long term plan for the local market?
The industry, as such, is not that concerned about the Indian market. Most companies, large as well as small, are using the domestic market as a prelude to prepare for the international market. I don't see any long-term plan for developing the local market.
Google rolls out TV search prototype -ZDNet:
Google introduced late Monday a prototype of a service to search TV programming, an anticipated move to broaden its search franchise for broadcast. the service will scour programming from PBS, Fox News, C-SPAN, ABC, and the NBA, among others, making broadcasts searchable the same day.

People can search on a term such as 'Indonesian tsunami' to find the TV shows in which it was mentioned, a still image of the video and closed-captioning text of that particular segment of the program. For now, people will not be able to watch the video clip, nor will the Web pages contain the company's signature text advertising. But Google expects to add video playback down the road, after ironing out the complexities of broadcasting rights and business models with various content owners.

TV search is going to be a large advertising revenue driver in time but broadcasters are still wondering if the search engines could cannibalize the TV viewing itself.

24 January, 2005

Larry Ellison on Offshoring as a Philanthropy -Offshore Outsourcing World: Oracle's CEO Larry Ellison takes a stand: offshoring is not a crime. Rather, it is a way to improve lives.

21 January, 2005

Spyware: IT's public enemy No. 1 -ZDNet:

'We now often scan for spyware before we check for viruses,'

"We had one PC that had 1,400 pieces of spyware on it. It can take anywhere from two hours to all day to fix these. With a limited staff, this can really tie up resources."

"Misspell a common domain name and you are likely to land on a domain that will inject spyware into your PC."

Panda Software recently discovered a pair of Trojans that leverage DRM (digital rights management) technology built into Windows Media Player. When a user attempts to download a license requested by WMP, the Trojans redirect the browser to a Web site that attacks the user's system with a barrage of spyware.

17 January, 2005

An evening with Google's product manager - Marissa Mayer:
  • The prime reason the Google home page is so bare is due to the fact that the founders didn't know HTML and just wanted a quick interface. Infact it was noted that the submit button was a long time coming and hitting the RETURN key was the only way to burst Google into life.
  • One of the biggest leap in search usage came about when they introduced their much improved spell checker giving birth to the "Did you mean..." feature. This instantly doubled their traffic.
  • Google has the largest network of translators in the world.
  • The infamous "I feel lucky" is nearly never used. However, in trials it was found that removing it would somehow reduce the Google experience. Users wanted it kept. It was a comfort button.
  • Gmail was used internally for nearly 2years prior to launch to the public. They discovered there was approximately 6 types of email users, and Gmail has been designed to accommodate these 6.

Putting XML in the fast lane -ZdNet
Performance problems result from XML's tendency to create very large files. That's in part because XML formatting calls for each element within a document to be tagged with labels written out as text. What's more, XML-based protocols, called Web services, also generate a great deal of XML traffic. Not only is XML verbose, but it's extremely wasteful in how much space it needs to use for the amount of true data that it is sending.

The leading candidate to help alleviate XML's performance woes is a technology called binary XML, which calls for a new format that compresses XML transmissions. In initial tests, they found that applications perform two or three times faster when using the software.

The primary concern is interoperability. Potentially, several different binary formats for specific purposes could emerge, which are not universally understood. For example, there may be a method for encoding images sent to consumer electronics, which may differ substantially from others.

Bray is skeptical of the entire notion of converting XML to any format other than text. "The fact that XML is ordinary plain text that you can pull into Notepad...has turned out to be a boon, in practice," he said. "Any time you depart from that straight-and-narrow path, you risk loss of interoperability. Experience with interoperability via XML as it is, has been excellent. Why take chances?"

12 January, 2005

Beware: Your GSM mobiles too can be cloned -The Times of India
What is cell phone cloning?
It is taking security data from a cell phone and reprogramming another with it. It works like an extension works with a land line. Though calls can be made from both phones, it’s the original that will be billed.

How is it done?
Every cell phone has a unique factory-set electronic serial number (ESN) and telephone number (MIN). To clone your phone, all someone needs to do is get these and reprogramme another phone with them.

How easy is it?
Very, if you have the software and equipment, all of which is freely available on the Internet.

The background
Cell phone cloning is very popular in countries with high immigrant population where calling home is expensive. Cloning can be for calls, mischief or criminal intent.

11 January, 2005

Porn biz driving DVD technology -Reuters:
As goes pornography, so goes technology. The concept may seem odd, but history has proven the adult entertainment industry to be one of the key drivers of any new technology in home entertainment. Pornography customers have been some of the first to buy home video machines, DVD players and subscribe to high-speed Internet.

One of the next big issues in which pornographers could play a deciding role is the future of high-definition DVDs.

07 January, 2005

Sanskrit in your Sanganaka(computer)

According to Forbes magazine, (July 1987), "Sanskrit is the most convenient language
for computer software programming."

In Sanskrit, every thing is etymological. Every thing is derived from some thing
else by some rule. It was Panini who formalised Sanskrit's grammer and usage about
2500 years ago. No new 'classes' have needed to be added to it since then.
Panini defined all possible ways of generating words to eternity.

Words in
Sanskrit are instances of pre-defined classes, a concept that drives
object oriented
programming [OOP] today. For example, in English 'cow' is a just
a sound assigned to mean a particular animal. But if you drill down the word 'gau'
-Sanskrit for 'cow'- you will arrive at a broad class 'gam' which means 'to
move. From these derive 'gamanam', 'gatih' etc which are variations of

The word ‘guru’ consisting of the aksharas (alphabet) ‘gu’ and ‘ru’, stands for a
teacher - one who dispels darkness (ignorance) of the mind (person). ‘Gu’ means
darkness and ‘ru’ means the act of removal. This is how Sanskrit works
- by explaining each and every word we use in our day-to-day lives.
Besides, the word also means that the sound of the letter does not ever get
destroyed, signifying the eternal quality of the sound of the letters. It retains
the phonetic characteristics of the language and their individual meanings as well!
Conclusively, the sound of a word is essentially the sound of aksharas in the word
- a concept that will help simplify text to speech applications with computers.

A typical characteristic of the Sanskrit language is its total disregard to ‘syntax’.
Words with their typical case endings may be at any position within sentences without
affecting the meaning or understanding.
Take the case of ‘Aham Shalam Gachhami’or
'I go to school’. Play with changing the positions, like ‘Shalam Gachchami Aham’or
‘Gachchami Aham Shalam’. So long as the grammar is perfect, the sentence construction
doesn’t matter.The meaning doesn’t change. Just try doing that in English!

Source: A42, Education Times

04 January, 2005

Indian flick to premiere on cell phones -ZDNet:
Airtel is the first cellular service in the world to premiere a full-length movie on mobile - 'Rok Sako To Rok Lo' for its customers, not in a theater, but on their handsets using EDGE technology. The movie will be streamed so it cannot be copied or downloaded.

03 January, 2005

Gates: In 2014, magic software, free hardware - ZDNet :

Within 10 years, said Gates, hardware could be considered as almost free, with powerful server and desktop systems, high bandwidth networks and wireless technology bringing anytime, anywhere connections.

Gates also said that speech technology would become mainstream in every device in this ten year period. However, combining speech and ink as standard human-computer interaction modes will give users and developers more interface options and flexibility in a single device. "This is like graphical user interface where as soon as you get the form factor right and the software right, it's just common sense," Gates said.

According to Gates, 75 percent of the $6.8 billion R&D budget is for projects in the development phase, with the majority going into creating more secure software. He predicted that within the next two years Microsoft would be able to remove security as one of its top five research and development priorities.

In reference to setting a date for the Longhorn, Gates said that the operating system release is not date driven. "People are speculating that we're out in 2006 sometime, and that's probably valid speculation, but this is not a date-driven release"

02 January, 2005

Everyone sought gold in security in 2004 -ZdNet
The average Internet attacker evolved from an online troublemaker to a calculating vandal, intent on profiting from compromising legions of PCs.
Security companies merged to better compete, and Microsoft derailed its Longhorn plans to push out a massive security update for its popular Windows desktop operating system. Meanwhile, industry and the government formed working groups to decide how to improve the security of the Internet and software without ringing up a large bill for companies and consumers.

The year also highlighted that the largest flaw in PC security remains the uneducated user. Phishing attacks, for example, jumped by 25 percent per month. A phishing scam typically uses mass e-mails to lure unwitting victims to fake Web sites, where they're asked to input information such as credit card numbers. While analysts debated the actual financial costs of the attacks to consumers, well-known businesses suffered from increased support costs and lost consumer confidence.

An attack that has become much more common uses links to attract people to malicious Web sites, which then attempt to compromise the victim's computer through one of the several flaws found in browser software this year. One attack used a compromised advertising service to send malicious banner ads to commercial Web sites, which caused some visitors to those sites (among them, news site The Register) to become infected.