Archive for ‘technology’

August 14, 2010

To FB or not to FB :)

Yeah! To Facebook , or not to Facebook, that is the question, I had been debating for quiet sometime (rather a long time) !!! FB might still  not be considered a verb as xerox or google, but it does have a very significant impact on the people social lives.  The recent security stint helped lot of people move to one end or the other and few even log off of fb completely.

But that really has not created any major dent on the followers for fb in general, and the company had been pouring out new collaborative features continuously. I had signed up for the service during the initial days to check it, but never got to using it full fledged. Today I lay out my (current) thoughts on how I would (dis) like to use the service going forward.

One major pull towards fb, for me, is it lets u easily connect with your lost buddies. I was able to get the mobile # of a old time school friend from the site & gave a casual call. During the same learnt about his wedding which I would have completely been unaware of otherwise. FB does help you to connect with people.

Image Courtesy : Acquisio.com

But at the same time some of the downsides , or factors restricting me away from the same are

  • Connecting with people should be in the real world, there is huge potential of sitting behind the desk being so very social online, connecting with people- only to realize you had not gone out of ur home for 5 days continuous and the only person you had talked to was the pizza delivery guy – yeah I am exaggerating , but u get the point !
  • One size cannot fit all. The current categorization of FB friends – pools in ur immediate family, relatives, close friends, friends, acquaintances, business relationships, online strangers [kind of in that order] all together. Different relations require different level of bonding and different quality of discussion. Getting them all mixed up under one umbrella, would cause confusions in the long run ! [downside to fixing this would result in making the fb control console complex :) , but that is the challenge – how would this be tackled without making it complex for the user !]
  • fb is in control of the data. It is so hard for the user to identify and define what and who see the data that is created. This becomes all the more significant , because of all types of relations having same level of access (ur either a friend or not) .

Slightly digressing, one key points is – whatever… WHATEVER… u want to remain private, don’t even think of getting it online. Does not matter if it is within a group of friends, or on a particular site etc. If it is online, it is pretty much deemed to be public.

Online Privacy is probably an oxymoron.

 

So, for now this is what I have decided, what do u think – do share on comments below !

  • Would predominantly use fb as a tool for reaching out to people , where as the actual connection might really happen in the real world.
  • Because of the way the fb does the friend’ing – you end up exposing the data meant for one group to the other with out your knowledge. This predominantly happens when you have one common person between two groups. Hence I might refrain to get any business acquaintances onto my network. I know that this defeats the purpose in some case, but that is a call I am taking , at this point :) , and change is not something that is constant !


May 9, 2010

Social Share for Smugmug

As I’m currently setting up the portfolio using Smugmug, was trying to work out on a nifty way of enabling social share on the site [For ppl not aware – Smugmug is a great professional photo hosting site]. Some of the key networking sites that i was looking onto were twitter, facebook, digg, google buzz [though the list in endless, am currently focusing just on these]

After checking out couple of different options , came across css creator –  a great site with lot of information on CSS tips, tricks and article. Was really inspired with the Social Share article – that I decided to replicate the same [is’nt imitation the best form of flattery ;-) ]. If ur looking to use the same in any other website, this article @ csscreator has the details.

Steps for Smug Customization

This post is about adding a nifty menu to the smugmug pro site. When the user clicks on any of the social icons, the current page would be shared in the appropriate service. The below code customized to move the share bar to the top right. The minimize option has been removed as the same is handled with the mouse position. Also it has been updated to hold just four key links. For a live demo u can check out my site. The below steps are specific for smugmug pro setup.

In the Advanced Site-Wide CustomizationClip_61

Add this code at the end of “CSS” Block

Add this code at the end of “Bottom JavaScript” Block

The icon images are from WebDesignerDepot.
The images are stored @ my blogsite as Smugmug does not allow png file type [still wonder why that is the case!!!]
The Code is based from the scripts @ CSS Creator

I’m not an expert with CSS,  hence if there is a better and efficient ways of achieving this, feel free to leave an update in the comments. I know the code is little bulky, since the slide CSS is based on Jquery – but the size is no where close to the high res images that the site crunches. Hope u find this useful to customize ur smug site.

P.S: I have tweaked the above to suite my sites current look @ www.liketheocean.com. If u would like to know more about the same, leave a comment below.

EDIT : I have updated the site sometime back and no longer use the script. Drop me a note or comment if u would like a copy of the same.

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April 29, 2010

Siri – the next gen web app

siriSiri is a spin-out of the Darpa-funded CALO project. Its primary focus had been Conversational Interface,  Personal Context Awareness – kind of moving the web Interface from a search based – as we know today to an assistance based.

Big players like Microsoft have always been working on the speech recognition technologies but Siri is different. Actually Microsoft did buy out TellMe -Voice Services for Phone-  in 2007. Though this is being touted to be part of the Bing Mobile, there had not been much ado about the same after. Siri brings a different play by merging transparent APIs from a growing ecosystem of partners in the back end. This seems to be a growing list with a wide range of vendors like

When I first learnt about Siri, was really exited, but when I tried to get my hands on the same learnt they were currently developing only for iPhone and iPod. I was very much hoping that they would soon be releasing for other mobile platforms like Symbian [myself being a long time nokia user !] based on the update @ siri site.

The current version of Siri is built for the iPhone 3GS and the iPod Touch and works only in the US. Soon, Siri will run on iPhone 3G and additional mobile platforms, as well.

But with today’s news of Apple buying out Siri – not sure how it is all going to unfold. This definitely would be a big plus for apple against google. Apple no longer is the David , and microsoft had never  been the Goliath !

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December 8, 2008

Thinking outside the Box – NativeClient

Thinking outside the box, or rather realize that there is no box !

NativeClient from Google is a open source research project (for now!) aiming to utilize the local client machine CPU cycles for running web applications, while maintaining the net neutrality and portability and safety.

Native Client uses software fault isolation and a secure runtime to direct system interaction and side effects through interfaces managed by Native client. Native Client provides operating system portability for binary code while supporting performance oriented features generally absent from web application programming environments, such as thread support, instruction set extensions such as SSE, and use of compiler intrinsic and hand-coded assembler. – From the associated white paper

google_vs_microsoft1

– cartoon by Tom Bower

If marketed and adopted by the programmers and end users alike appropriately this would be huge for Google, in reducing the significance of an operating systems ! At this juncture it looks more like this would be competing with Java in one perspective and and the same time would be trying to eat into Flash market. But probably the more significant implication would be the giving even more control to the Big Brother !

For further details, visit the Google Code blog entry or the project page itself.

April 22, 2008

Ray Ozzie continues to Amaze, but Would it Suffice ???

image

Tech Preview of Microsoft Mesh was launched yesterday. First few glances of Mesh sounds promising (here here and here too). Had been wondering what Ray Oozie was up to all these days. It has been 3 years since he joined Microsoft. And yes he is the same person behind Lotus Notes and Groove.

The former(Notes) was bought by IBM and the latter(Groove) was taken over by Microsoft. Though Ozzie was not able to stick with IBM for long, Lotus Notes did play a vital role in the rebirth of IBM in 90’s. Microsoft was everyone’s Darling then, and IBM was the big bad guy. DejaVu, here we are at the same juncture, only the player are different – Microsoft & Google.

Not that old an Illustration from Wired

Earlier when Ozzie teamed up at Microsoft, he addressed  the 70,000+ members with this Memo.

In 1995, Bill Gates foresaw the Internet tidal wave and pushed his company to adapt. At the time, that seemed prophetic. Today, Ray Ozzie is pushing the same thing, but this time it’s about survival.

Would Ozzie be able to turn the tables for Microsoft ? Time would tell !!!

Update : A diff perspective to Mesh from Joel Spolsky

March 20, 2008

Morphing Mobile from Nokia

NokiaMorph1

 

Yes it indeed, is a mobile from Nokia. Check out the below Video for cool features !!!

Now that you have drooled over the same (like me!) don’t be disappointed to know it  is a concept – a nanotechnology concept device from Nokia and University of Cambridge launch the Morph.

Morph is a concept that promises stretchable, flexible, transparent electronics and self-cleaning surfaces. Nanotech seems to be really promising.

Elements of Morph might be available to integrate into handheld devices within 7 years, though initially only at the high-end.

Even if half of what is being projected is attained, it would be an amazing gadget.

Time would tell !!!

September 13, 2007

8 mp + 6x zoom + Image Stabilization = $200 ! WOW

Canon 720 IS – Is it really worth a wait?

I’ll know in a month or so. I moved to Canon S2 IS from Canon S50 three years back. It has been Canon for me that worked from the beginning. The cost of Memory Stick and compatibility has always kept me a little farther from Sony.

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I have been looking at the option of moving to an SLR for the last couple of months. Still trying to gather reasons to justify the $$$ involved in the same ;-)

Meanwhile I was looking for a camera for my mom. Doing a quick search and reading some reviews zero’ed down on some canon models. That is when Canon 720 IS caught my attention.

Some of the key feature that I was looking for and available in Canon 720 IS were

Features

In Canon 720 IS

Compact Its compact & Sleek
Point & shoot (with Manual Control) ~20 Shooting Mode(s) , with manual options
Power Zoom 6x (not as great as S2’s 12x , but still better)
> 6 megapixel for small Poster Print 8 megapixel
Cost List price $250 (Street Price ~ $200)
AA Batteries Yes. Having AA battery compatibility helps a lot, when ur stuck out of no where (lesson learnt from experience !!!)
Image Stabilization Yes, Makes a lot of difference , especially with power zoom
Memory Options MMC, SD and SD HC (High Capacity)
Movie Mode Fast Frame Rate Movie mode for 60-frame-per-second video with sound
Support for additional lenses Yes , Just in case ;-)

So here I am, awaiting for this sleek power toy ! Here is a detailed review of canon 710 , its predecessor, to get a feel for it! For a complete Spec of Canon 720 IS check this.

Update: This is available for $250 from couple of locations. Amazon.com was running this for $229 for just a couple of days last week. Now its $250 there too. Just today (Sept 23) morning noticed its available from oncecall.com for $229 (inclusive of 3 days Fedex shipping + no Tax). This seems to be the best price as of now. Just now placed an order, might not last long !!!

Update 2: It indeed was worth it. Except for the delay between shots (account to just 2 battries rather than 4 like my IS S2) , its just amazing !!!

May 29, 2007

iPhone has the best user Interface – Think Again

Apple has always given breakthroughs when it comes to user experience and user interface. The same was true when Jobs announced the iPhone couple of months ago. The user interface seemed to have been a revolution in the mobile space.

Think such an innovation , multiplied by 100 x, add to it a coffee table, a bunch of cameras, a projector and a diffuser may be, throw in Microsoft and vista … bingo what do U get …

welcome to Microsoft Surface Computing …. Sounds really interesting. Takes interaction with computes to a whole new level. Looking forward to how soon this would get commercialized and accessible to everyone.

Watch Demo @ On10.netHere is the update from CNET & Popular Mechanics

P.S : Pretty sure there could be lot of patent overlaps with other major players, hope this comes out soon !

January 9, 2007

iPod + Phone + Internet = iPhone

Steve’s speech had always been inspiring. If u were not among the lucky few who are currently at Mac World, then you might find this interesting – Live from Macworld 2007: Steve Jobs keynote by Engadget. Wish I could get hold of the video (on demand) during the coming days.

Update : Here is the Keynote (video) from Apple website.

As most of us expected and rumored, the iPhone (I thought iPhone was trademarked by Cisco or rather Linksys) arrives. Some of the interesting things to be noted are

  • iPhone runs on OS X
  • The device has just one button (Home button)
  • Built on Multi-Touch – a new technology being introduced by Apple (This video gets u a feel of what this tech could be)
  • Touch based interaction rather than an expected apple click wheel or regular stylus
  • Quad Band + Edge + WiFi + Bluetooth
  • Only 2 mp Camera (doesn’t Sony have a 3 mp and Nokia a 5 mp camera !)
  • Already partnered with major players like Google, Yahoo and Cingular

Though the closed model is successful for a number of reasons, it just makes one wonder on the number of applications that would be available on iPhone. With the power of OS X, it should be capable of creating any type of application on iPhone. But would there be any fun if apple is the only one, who could do it. Would be interesting to see how this market grows.

Update : Found this podcast at PodTech. It is part of the Keynote.

[odeo view=http://odeo.com/audio/5468353/view]

P.S : Did u notice that at the end Jobs, announced the change in name from Apple Computers Inc. to Apple Inc. dropping off computer. Is he not suggesting something here ;-)

December 7, 2006

Send CDs via e-mail – Pando

The other day while talking with one of my friends, realized that I had a a bunch of old instrumental melodies (carried from India) that he was badly looking for. He wanted it so bad, that he requested me to write a CD and mail it to him. What else could he suggest for a total transfer size of 700+ MB. Though I had a CD writer, I was very reluctant (rather lazy) to write the same to CD and physically mail it to him.

I was thinking if there was a better way of doing the same.There started my search for other available options. I came across a lot of file hosting services of which I were totally dissatisfied for various reasons.

And then came Pando to my rescue. Pando allows you to send really huge files and folders) of 1 GB to anyone (who has Pando installed) through e-mail. The simple interface of Pando is really good.

Install it , e-mail it, forget it. It was that simple. The service is free and comes as plugin for quiet a number of applications like yahoo and skype (though quiet surprisingly I did not find one for Firefox, mmm is someone working on it!). Additionally the latest beta allows you to post huge file(s) to ur blog or web (I am yet to try this part)

But be informed U need to have access to broadband. I really doubt anyone would even think of sending across Gigs of data with only dial-up, on the first place.

I had wanted to write about Pando for quiet some time , but has been postponing the same. Scoble made it easier by posting a video about the same @ Scoble show.

In the above,Yaron Samid, founder of Pando, talks about the technology behind Pando and shows how the same works.

P.S : He mentioned it is a enhancement of Bit Torrent, a kind of peer-2-peer technology. I was just wondering how transferring a bulk of data from one PC to just another would be effective using this technology. Bit torrents generally are from one source to multiple destinations (and the destinations act as sources). Or at least they are faster when there are multiple sources to download. Anyway’s it work fine for me, so I wouldn’t bother much for now.

 

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November 12, 2006

Jajah Rocks

Had a chat with my bro in UK (from US, where I currently live) for 45 minutes for free (yeah u heard it right, it is free atleast for the time being) Praise the technology. Pretty good quality and hassle free set up.

Jajah is really not just one another VoIP service. Some of the advantage that I noticed were

  • Initiates a call between traditional phones
  • No special hardware required (headsets / microphone)
  • Does not require any s/w download
  • Quality of call is independent of the user’s bandwidth.
  • Very Competitive pricing

What It takes to use Jajah

  • Register @ Jajah website using ur phone number
  • Enter the family / friends number u want to call
  • Click Call
  • UR Phone rings, pick up the phone
  • UR friends phone rings, (s)he picks up
  • Talk and keep talking :) (of course keep in mind the fair use policy)

Do I need a PC

Not really. If u have a mobile (Symbian or Java enabled) then you could initiate the call from ur mobile phone. Yeah International calls @ low rates from ur mobile, and it works ! To check if ur mobile is supported click here.

Even otherwise u could still use it by initiating the call using a PC and go from there. The PC is not required once the call is established.

So how much does it Cost

It depends on which Zone u and ur friends are in ! Detailed tariff is listed here. In short Jajah currently offers free calls between

  • Land line and mobile calls to and within the US, Canada, China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan (Zone 1)
  • Land line, but not mobile calls, to and within Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea South, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Russia, San Marino, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, UK, Venezuela (Zone 2)
  • Land line / Mobile from Zone 1 to Mobile in Zone 2

Note : This is not some sort of a comparative review. This above is based on my first experience with Jajah usage. There are a couple of VoIP alternatives that I would give a try, some day like Rebtel, Skype & Hullo


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November 8, 2006

A Different Face of Riya

Riya – a photo search company specializing with facial pattern matching have released a new product with a slightly different perspective (a major difference in business value).

The portal that came live around 12 AM (Nov 8,2006) is @ www.like.com. This seems to be one of the first portals to extensively use images as input to perform a search. Like.com takes in keywords and images to get the search results.

Though limited to a set of products currently, it is pretty interesting , to see the way u could perform ur searches. It opens up a brand new perspective to search. One could control based on the color, shape , pattern etc.

Have a look for urself. Pretty innovative and intresting.
Here is a sample text search for ‘Shoes with Wheels’. Impressive on the first look. mmm

P.S : I was personally hoping (and still wishing) Riya would improve on the facial recognition and probably provide with a offline utility to sort and categorize 10K’s of images on my local hard drive and automate tagging to a great extent. I feel Riya is in a special position to fill the void between the huge photo achieves on the local disks and the online photo services.

Update : Scoble has an interesting interview with Munjal CEO, Riya & Like @ ScoleShow. The story behind obtaining the domain name was interesting (somewhere in the initial 10 mins of the video).

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October 14, 2006

Multiple Inbox – Get ‘ em all in one Box

I remember creating my first e-mail (on yahoo) sometime before starting collage, that was 12 years back. mmm quiet a time :)

I have had a number of e-mail accounts (Internet based) from then. I have changed them (both the account and the host) due to many reasons like features provided by the new host, availability of username, need for free pop functionality, spam etc.

I still get e-mail on the first account I created, though I do not use it to send any outgoing mails. It is really difficult to drop a e-mail account(s) once you are started and well established with it.

The fact is, I have couple of e-mail accounts from different vendors and use Firefox to check all my e-mails. I have tried a couple of different versions of outlook, but almost always ended up getting only Hotmail to work.

Recently came across Thunderbird (if u do not know – it is a great imap / pop e-mail client). Installation was a breeze and the feature list is great. Yeah ! it works. Now I have all my inbox in one box.

I currently use Thunderbird to pull in my e-mails from Hotmail, Yahoo and Google accounts. Generally you would need a Yahoo! Plus for pop3 access. In our case the magic is done by Webmail. Webmail is a plug-in (or Extension) for Thunderbird that enable one to pull in a web based e-mail into Thunderbird. Webmail is available for Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail, Lycos, AOL and mail.com. [If u do not see ur account here, then u might want to see if pop access for ur account is enabled, if so, u could still use thunderbird].

Below are the sequence of steps I followed to have my one box setup. All ver numbers are as of writing this article.

Installation

  • Download and Install Thunderbird from here (ver 1.5.0.7)
  • Download and Save the main Webmail Extension from here (ver 1.0.12)
  • Download and Save the Webmail for Hotmail from here (ver 1.0.6)
  • Download and Save the Webmail for Yahoo from here (ver 1.1.4)
  • Download and Save the Webmail for Gmail from here (ver 0.5.4)
  • Open Thunderbird and from Tools -> Extensions Install the main Webmail plug-in first. This has to be installed FIRST , before the ones specific for mail accounts.
  • Install the Webmail for specific accounts one after the other (U can restart Thunderbird, just once after you install all the above).

General Settings

  • Open Thunderbird , from Tools -> Extensions and select Webmail and click the Option Button.
  • Turn on ‘ Enable IMAP Server’
  • Restart Thunderbird
  • Open Thunderbird , from Tools -> Extensions and click the ‘ Find Updates’. A compatibility update might be applied

Setting an Account

  • Adding an account using Webmail Extensions is really simple. U do not need to know abt the port numbers and other specifics. The webmail page a quick guide to adding a new account. The same can be found here.

Issues I faced and Solutions

Continue to read this only if are having any issues else you can safely ignore this section and go to resource directly by clicking here.

–> Only few 10’s of e-mails were pulled when Inbox had several 100’s

U might face this scenario, if you had recently moved between to the latest beta version of the web-mail (After Google, everyone seems to be playing this beta stuff !!!)

If this is the case from Tools->Extensions select the corresponding webmail plug-in (in our case Yahoo!) .

From options select the appropriate mode production or BETA.

A word of caution though : I lost a bunch of e-mails by randomly switching between my classic yahoo and latest beta, while trying to pull in all the mails from my account to Thunderbird.

Hence if you are already on BETA , I would suggest

  • Use BETA Website Option, and pull all your latest mails
  • Make sure you take a backup of these mails
  • Switch to Yahoo! Classic (from Yahoo! Options)
  • Use the production Website Option in Webmail to pull your old mails.
  • Switch back to BETA on yahoo! (If ur lucky you would still have ur latest mails)
  • Switch to to BETA in the Webmail Option to proceed further.
  • Also make a note that some of the new mails (the ones received after u moved to BETA) might be duplicated again in Thunderbird

–> “Negative Vibes ” Message

U might get message like, ‘ local host responded with negative vibes while sending Password’. There a couple of things you could try to fix this

  • Make sure you have the domain name is included in the user name (xxxx@yahoo.com)
  • Sometimes this might happen when Thunderbird is trying to copy the mails from Junk Folder. Check the mails counts and if so , this can be safely ignored.
  • Go to Extension Panel (Tools -> Extension) and Click on Find Updates. U might see a message Compatibility Update Applied’. If you see such a message this action might make a difference and make things better for you.
  • Sometime this happens when the Mail server is not responding. You can check same by trying to connect to ur mail from a browser.

–> Local Host Not Responding

Not sure why this happened initially. When ever I tried to retrieve the mail , it would keep trying for a long time and give a message ‘LocalHost Not Responding’ . Restarting the PC resolved the issue for me. It was just that one time, it happened.

–> Miscellaneous

  • If you are having issues sending mail out from Thunderbird check if you anti virus or firewall is blocking the same. Some anti virus package might be pre configured to scan for ur out going mail. When I turned this option off on my NORTON, the issue was resolved.
  • Some times it could be ur firewall that is blocking the Application for accessing the Internet. Update options on the firewall to allow access for Thunderbird. It is NOT recommended that u turn off the firewall or Anti Virus just to allow Thunderbird access Internet.
  • If you have multiple Yahoo! or Hotmail accounts (like me), you would have realized that some times having two Yahoo / Hotmail Accounts might function without glitches. Using profiles (Start Menu -> Mozilla Thunderbird -> Profiles Manager) resolved the issue for me.
  • I have a Microsoft Live account that comes with its own domain name like xxxx@liketheocean.com. When I initially set it up it worked great. But after a couple of days it stopped working. Am in the process of trying to get it to work. If some one has any information on the same feel free to add it in the comments below.

Related Useful Links

U really do not need Webmail always (thought it makes things easier). It you know the POP / SMTP server details and have access to the same you could try configuring Thunderbird to access the mails directly. This link shows how the same can be done for Gmail + Thunderbird.

Mozilla Wiki is a good resource for steps on how to manage your account to ur Thunderbird.

A generic tutorial on adding any POP3 account with out Webmail.

Feel free to share your experience. If you have any additional information don’t forget to add them in the comments below :)

And if you found this useful, UR welcome to Digg MeDigg This

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October 10, 2006

Google Does have some BIG Plans

As the Google – You Tube deal is still hot on one side , Google today announced Google Docs and Spreadsheets. This is a online Word processor and Spread sheet application on the Web in a single place. There do have collaboration built into the same.

They take one step at a time (bought Writely and released Google spread sheets) , but sturdy quick steps. Writely was bought over during March. Spreadsheets was released in June and within next 3 months time they provide it as a single bundle.

For me this just seems like the tip of the ice berg. They sure do have some BIG plans and are really focused / moving towards it.

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