Random Rants

Anything that tickles my fancy.

Archive for the ‘technology’ Category

iKindle: A better kindle.

Posted by silverstag on August 24, 2008

This is something I came up with. This is some gadget I wish Apple or Amazon or some other company would create. What is iKindle? Well, you know of iPhone(if you don’t, stop reading this post 😉 ) and you must have heard of “Kindle“. Kindle is an e-book reader. That is an under statement if I leave it at that. Head to wikipedia for more details as I don’t want to sail off topic here.

iKindle would integrate iPhone’s legendary touch interface into Kindle. Slap in some Wi-Fi and you have the best Kindle that could be. The device should have these crazy features:

  • flipping and skimming through pages,
  • highlighting text by dragging a finger across it and providing instant look up on the same,
  • marking dog-ears by pinching a page you are reading,
  • split screen that will display pages of the e-book side-by-side so you could think you are actually reading off a book.
  • browsing the internet and downloading e-books from Kindle store on the go,
  • a decent storage capacity,
  • audio player that would even play “ogg”,
  • what’s missing..ahhhh… a movie player,
  • support for ODF documents,
  • a small note taking app.

Imagine the iPhone’s keyboard on this baby. Oh! boy, that would be a treat indeed. This would all look even better if the device runs on Linux and is hacker friendly. Hmmm… me and my wild dreams. I think I should file a patent on this. May be I will if my lawyer says I can’t be sued by Apple or Amazon 😉 .


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A few snips of info on Japanese Mobile Industry

Posted by silverstag on August 12, 2008

I came across this Techcrunch post on Japanese Mobile Web. Something I thought might interest some of you folks. It’s a long read. So, I’ll put up a few scraps from the page here.

90 million 3G handsets are currently in circulation..

100 different Internet-enabled 3G handsets per year.

over-the-counter payments (e-wallet),  commuter pass in public transportation, 2D barcode reader, health control terminal, dictionary, karaoke player, digital TV, music player, e-book are just a few things Japanese have come to take for granted.

video transfer from Blu-ray recorders, alarm buzzers with direct connection to the nearest police station or voice-to-text translation and mobile web access at a maximum of 54 Mbps on Wi-Fi enabled phones.

availability of cutting-edge phones is one reason why many Japanese people don’t own a PC but would rather browse the web exclusively on mobile devices. Booking flights online, ordering clothes, auctioning off used stuff, gaming, paying for movie tickets via direct debit are a few other perks..

A few numbers now…

business carried out through cell phones in Japan was worth $106 billion in 2007 (up 23% from 2006), with m-commerce accounting for $67 billion and the mobile content market for $39 billion. Just one example: Cell phone owners downloaded music worth $10.2 billion, 42% more than in 2006.

What’s in store…?

NTT Docomo successfully transmitted 250Mbps packets in an experimental Super 3G system, planning to end preparations for the eventual launch by 2009.

While the world is still playing catch-up, these guys are setting standards for our future infrastructure and services.

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Things you didn’t know about Google Search

Posted by silverstag on June 6, 2007

How often have heard/read reports saying that, Google Search has taken a back burner, while the company(Google) is concentrating on Ads and monetisation of content? Well, I’ve been hearing/reading about it a lot lately. I believe it to be misinterpretation of Google’s  Intentions. And then, Google itself has been launching so many products and features off late, that people started assuming stuff about Google Search. Personally, I’ve noticed a tremendous improvement (with regard to relevance) in my searches for quite some time and i haven’t  ever using a Search Engine other than Google, not even to compare results, Because Google finds me what I want, always!

Search has been, is and will be at the center of Google strategy for the web. How would you make money on the content when the content is not rich(relative to your searches) enough?

Here’s the original NYTimes article.

More on this from Matt Cutts, below.

Google continues to have a strong focus on search

All the time I hear things like “If Google doesn’t pay attention to search…” or “If Google loses its focus on search.” That’s not likely to happen, but let me explain why people might worry that Google will lose our focus on search.

– Something like Street View is splashy, cool, and easy to understand, so launches like that tend to get more coverage. It’s much easier for someone to write about a new product or feature than about how Google has improved its semantic understanding of the web, or when we get better at scoring documents. I love Street view, Google Gears, and mobile Calendar, by the way. I’m just using them as examples because they’re easy to understand and recent.
– We don’t always talk a ton about core search quality. Part of the reason is that some reporters are less interested in changes that can’t even be seen (”Google’s search just got a little better in Thai. You can’t see it, but it did!”). Sometimes core search is hard to get other people excited about — kinda like it’s hard to make a picture of someone working on a computer exciting. And sometimes as a business you don’t want to give hints to competitors about how you do things. I’ve got a funny story about “url.host” that I’ll tell someday. Maybe someone will ask me about it in the Q&A tomorrow at the conference.

What happens when you put these two trends together? People see media coverage on neat/wild/fun things that Google does, and they don’t read many stories about core search quality. From those two facts, they extrapolate to what seems like a reasonable conclusion: Google is focusing less on search. But that’s just not true. Hundreds of engineers pay attention to our search quality in ways big and small. Google is practically designed from the ground up so that we can’t lose that search focus. It’s natural to combine these two trends and come to the wrong conclusion. By giving a glimpse at what our search quality engineers do on a daily basis, this article dispels that misconception.

Google makes lots of improvements that most people never notice.

Some people think that Google changes a few things every few months. At least in search quality, it’s more like a few things every week. From the article: “the search-quality team makes about a half-dozen major and minor changes a week to the vast nest of mathematical formulas that power the search engine.” I don’t think we’ve discussed our pace of search quality changes before.

Getting search right is really hard

The article quotes John Battelle:

“People still think that Google is the gold standard of search,” Mr. Battelle says. “Their secret sauce is how these guys are doing it all in aggregate. There are 1,000 little tunings they do.”

In my experience that’s correct. Running a search engine at Google-scale means that you have to get lots of big things and hundreds of little things right. Missing even a few of those things will annoy users (sometimes subconsciously) and they won’t use your search engine as much. I would never claim that we get all of those hundreds of things right ourselves, but we try to. I read a quote from someone from a different search engine last year. They essentially said that “there was no more secret sauce left” in search. After reading that claim, I walked around happy for days. )

Google has some good internal tools

This article was the first time that I know of that we’ve mentioned our internal debug tools. When you get hundreds of millions of queries a day, it’s inevitable that some queries won’t return the ideal set of results. At Google, we love hearing about those queries because we can dissect them and plan how to improve our algorithms.

There are a lot of people “behind the curtain” at Google that improve search

I think it’s important to get more Googlers out into the spotlight. Sometimes search engine optimizers attribute (say) some crawl change to me when the most I might have done was relay a problem report to the experts in the crawl/index team, who then do the real work of deciding how to tackle an issue and implementing that idea.

So I’m glad that the article sheds light on some new people in search. The article discusses Amit Singhal, who is a wonderful guy and a strong influence at Google. The newspaper article also includes a picture of Jianfei Zhu. Jianfei is a colleague that works with me and others on Chinese webspam; Jianfei also spoke at SES China recently and has done interviews about SEO and Chinese search.

Most importantly, the article mentions that there are hundreds of engineers that pay attention to search and quality at Google. These are phenomenal people who work on everything from international issues to evaluating our quality to crawling/indexing to personalization to fixing bugs to new quality initiatives. (Not to mention all the other people who make a difference at Google in hundreds of ways outside of search.) I know that Saul Hansell talked to several other engineers when he visited Google, so over time I believe we’ll get even more Googlers out into the spotlight.

Via Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO

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[Gonna be] Made in India: Air-Powered Car – City Cat .

Posted by silverstag on May 29, 2007

Yes, You read it right. It’s a compressed air-powered car and is being made by the Indian Car maker Tata Motors. This is not exactly something ground breaking (supposedly). I can’t speak for every one of you but, I couldn’t believe it. Tata Motors putting weight behind something this out-of-the-box? Wow!. Good to know and good for the company too. I’ve personally hated all the 4-wheelers Tata Motors has ever released. The company is good, but the designers out there seem to be sleeping through half their work time. I find their vehicles to be either cheap rip-offs or something, same-crap-in-a-new-package.

Nice to see an Indian company trying to bring some innovation into it’s products. I don’t see it happening much around here. I hope to see these cars soon in the market. Sooner, the better. Summer peak temperatures are increasing every year in this country.

Head to these links for more info and specs:

Note: I work for one of the Tata Companies. (Hope this post won’t land me in trouble 😉 ). So, don’t get thinking that i hate Tata Motors. Statiscally, Tata Motors’ 4-wheelers actually sell a good amount in India. Don’t ask me how!. People must find something good about them.

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Biometric ATM’s

Posted by silverstag on January 22, 2007

Check out this post about biometric ATM’s coming to india. I’m glad that biometrics is being put good use and all but, i had a bit of trepidation as i was reading the post. More on that later.

All the banks i interact with take me through a two factor authentication for all my online transactions. It’s a really cool thing, this “something you know and something you have” thing for authentication. And we are getting biometric ATM’s this means that soon all our dealings with banks will go through some form of biometric authentication and that is just great(atleast for people like me whose signatures can be easily forged). I’ll be a happy soul when biometric banking kicks-in in full scale in india.

Now, to the sinister part of the post. I stay in Bangalore and crime over here is not something that could be taken light-heartedly. I’ve heard of incidents where criminals have got cash withdrawn by the victims at knifepoint. So, with biometric ATM’s criminals won’t need the victims anymore, they just need their cards and fingers(or worse, their hands). I hope it doesn’t come to that end. And yes, that reminds me of this dialogue from a famous hindi movie Sholay, ye haath mujhe dede thakur. Only, it’s not an entertaining thought.

I sincerely wish that no one will ever find themselves in such a situation.

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