Jul 30, 2008

Infosys patents mobile handset that can beam 3D holographic images

Software giant Infosys has patented a mobile handset that will one day routinely beam 3D films, games, and virtual goods into our laps, a news report on CNET says.

The report adds that the patent was granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office to a handset that allows complex 3D holographic images “ to be squeezed through the narrow pipes of existing communications networks by sending only the unprocessed data to be translated into the 3D hologram at the other end.”

The device will also be able to send and receive 3D images using a projector with a laser source and micro holographic optical elements lenses.

According to the creators, the device could help portable machines capture and send 3D snapshots of the surrounding world, “ helping accident investigators, teachers, and doctors work remotely by instantly relaying realistic depictions of car damage, injuries, medical scans, or educational aids.”

State of internet in india - SHOCKING!!!!

CHINA has overtaken the US in the number of Internet connections – 253 million users compared to 223 in the US. And India? Just 42 million. The numbers are dismal in broadband, China has more than 180 million broadband users, India has just 4.3 million. India defines, just as many countries do, connection speeds of 256 Kbps as broadband. In the US, broadband is 768 Kbps. The cost of a 256 Kbps connection in India is almost equal to a 6 Mbps connection in the US. You call this connectivity?

Cuil is cool, but cooler than Google?

SOON after its Monday launch, Cuil, a search engine developed by former Google engineers, became a darling on the blogosphere. Some even called it a “ Google killer”. But is it really?

Cuil ( pronounced “ cool”) has a smart interface, just as Google does, but unlike Google, it searches through 121 billion web pages ( Google searches only around 40 billion). Its results are far more stylized and the result pages give the user to customize their look in either two or three columns.

However, the biggest difference between Cuil and Google is that the former thinks that a page’s popularity is not the only factor determining its rank in the search results. Apart from relevancy, Cuil also picks the keywords and the context in which the keyword was used in the document. In short, it intelligently analyses the document before throwing up any result.

Cuil has images in its search results by default “ to illustrate the idea behind each page to aid you in your choice,” according to the founders. It also has roll- over definitions that offer users ideas to refine their search. This is a really cool feature because it allows users to understand and navigate through possible topics and sub- topics without any further clicks.

So far, so cool. Yet, Google is no pushover. Google’s Page Rank technology still gives the best search results, and has many offerings – news, blogs, picture management, videos, social networking, etc – that it will be really tough to beat Google at its own game.

iPhone still doesn't have copy paste!!!!

THE iPhone has some of the most advanced features a phone can ever have. And with the Apple App Store, we will soon have more than 500 new software specifically for the iPhone. Yet, it does not have a simple copy- paste feature.

It is like having a PhD- holding mathematics professor who cannot solve simple and compound interest problems. Enter MagicPad, a new application that is awaiting to be listed on the App Store after getting the necessary approvals from Apple’s engineers. MagicPad allows for rich text editing ( so you can change the font, its size, or even colour) and just like any other iPhone app, you can drag your fingers over text to select it.
The only problem? It cannot copy- paste between applications. For instance, try copying text from a web page and paste it in your email software, and you will get zilch. That’s a downer, if there was any.

So, can we have the humble copy- paste?

Apple a day does not keep the doctor away

THERE are millions of innovators who make good products and thousands who make great ones, but only a few manage to change our lives or revolutionise an entire industry. Most in the last category are happy with one revolutionary product, and their legacy is bound to that single innovation. Now imagine if you have created three.

It is not difficult to wonder why Apple’s Chief Executive Steve Jobs – the man behind the Mac computers, the iPod and the iPhone – is an indispensable asset to the world of technology and innovation. So, when you saw pictures of a thin and frail Jobs launching the 3G iPhone earlier this month instead of the fit CEO that he was last year, you’d get worried. Ever since the launch, rumours and speculation have been flying about Jobs’ health. Jobs had battled a rare form of pancreatic cancer just four years ago when he had his tumour removed.

Apple shares fell six per cent over the last week despite posting a record profit of $ 9 billion and the products your company develops. Heck, we even buy them by the millions. We treat you like you are family because your products have become part of our everyday life. But we sure don’t like the way you treat us with disdain as if we are not part of your family. That hurts.

HP, Intel, Yahoo in cloud tie-up

Chip giant Intel is teaming up with web firm Yahoo and hardware company HP to create virtual research centres for cloud computing.

Cloud computing offers online storage and promises a range of new services for data and devices that are plugged into the cloud.

Initially six data centres will be available for pre-selected researchers to test new applications.

Research firm Gartner has dubbed cloud computing as influential as e-business.

New approach

"Cloud computing represents a new era of computing. Working at that kind of scale means there will be many unanswered questions and raise new problems for computer science," said John Manley, director of HP's strategic research lab.

"We want to create an environment that can begin to answer some of these challenges," he added.

As well as providing a new way of storing data, cloud computing offers new ways to use the data.

"The web democratised creativity and allowed anyone to create something new and innovative. Cloud computing is the next stage for that," said Mr Manley.

"To my mind it is the natural evolution of the internet and if we look back in 15 years time we will be astounded by what cloud computing has allowed to happen," he said.

Intel, Yahoo and HP will each host one of the centres and the other three will be at the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, the University of Illinois, and the Steinbuch Centre for Computing in Germany.

As well as exploring new applications for cloud computing, the centres will allow researchers to look at the problems of how to make such huge scale computing reliable, manageable and secure.

Research centres of this kind are necessary because of the size of the computational resources needed for cloud computing. Few educational establishments can afford to run them alone.

Each of the centres will provide 1,000 to 4,000 machines to support the data-intensive research and, if necessary, can all be connected together.

The research centres will be fully operational later this year.

Gartner analyst David Mitchell Smith believes it is an important tipping point for cloud computing.

"Anytime you get three companies of that stature looking to advance it, is significant," he said.

"We consider cloud computing to be the next really big thing and the sky's the limit to the services it will enable over the next ten years," he added.

Question about MTNL iControl


i need to know little about MTNL IPTV/icontrol - hows the service?? whats the downtime?? any freezes or something like that??? time-shift tv is available on what all channels??

please help as i'm also plannin to go for it



Time shift is available in a few free to air channels approx 25 channels. but what's the use when they don't have a programming guide?
there are frequent downtimes.
chk out my full review of icontrol at http://kromze.blogspot.com/2008/04/mtnl-iptv-delhi-review.html

i wud advice u not to book it atleast for now.the service is horrible.
wondering why i m using it despite various glitches? bcoz i m getting it for free .due to some billing issue they aren't charging any monthly charges from me.its been more than 8 months

Jul 27, 2008

Jul 26, 2008

Hackers control critical security flaw in Internet

INTERNET security researchers have warned that hackers have caught on to a critical flaw that lets them control traffic on the Internet. An elite squad of computer industry engineers who laboured in secret to solve the problem, released a software patch two weeks ago and sought to keep details of the vulnerability hidden, at least a month, to give people time to protect computers from attacks. “ We are in a lot of trouble,” said IOActive security specialist Dan Kaminsky, who stumbled upon the Domain Name System ( DNS) vulnerability about six months ago and reached out to industry giants to collaborate on a solution. “ This attack is good. It is being weaponised out in the field. Everyone needs to patch, please,” Kaminsky said. The vulnerability allows cache poisoning attacks that tinker with data stored in computer memory caches that relay Internet traffic to its destination. Attackers could use the vulnerability to route Internet users wherever the hackers wanted, no matter what address is typed into a browser. The threat is greatest for business computers handling online traffic or hosting websites, according to security researchers. The flaw is a boon for phishing cons who involve people to imitate web pages of businesses such as bank or credit card companies to trick them into disclosing account numbers, passwords and other information. “ I was not intentionally seeking to cause anything that could break the Internet,” Kaminsky said during a conference with peers and media. “ It’s a little weird to talk about it out loud.” Kaminsky built a web page, www. doxpara. com , where people can find out whether their computers have the DNS vulnerability. As of Thursday, more than half the computers tested at the website still needed to be patched. “ People are spending hours getting this patch out the door,” Kaminsky said. The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team ( CERT), a joint government- private sector security partnership, is among the chorus urging people to quickly protect computers linked to the Internet. “ Just like you should wear a seat belt going down the road to be safe in a car accident, the same applies here,” said Jerry Dixon, a former director of cyber security at the US Department of Homeland Security. “ Two exploits, software snippets that take advantage of the vulnerability, have been unleashed on the Internet in the past 24 hours,” Securosis analyst Rich Mogul said during the conference.-AFP

Laptops leap over PCs as prices slide

FOR Ronak Shah, a 21-yearold who has just started his MBA degree, a laptop is the need of the hour. The laptop’s portability, additional features has what has given it the edge over cousin, the desktop. Ronak says, “I can carry my laptop anywhere. This mobility is the reason for my purchase.” Like Ronak, around 25 per cent of the population prefers the laptop over a desktop. Not just portability, but the most basic laptops come with a lot of features such as a card reader, Bluetooth, wi-fi, graphic cards and huge hard disk space. Moreover, the prices of laptop have been reducing by at least 20 per cent every year. A recent survey done by Manufacturers’ Association for Information Technology (MAIT) reveals that sale of laptops in the country grew by a whopping 114 per cent in 2007-08 compared to the previous year. The total PC sale is expected to touch 8.5 million units and grow at 16 per cent in the current financial year. Lamington Road, a hub for electronic appliances in Mumbai boasts of hundreds of shops that sell computers. Shopkeepers in the street fret about the rising competition in the sale of laptops because that means lower margins for themselves. According to Rohit Chhadwa, an employee at PC Guide, an authorised HP dealer there, “Competition has risen like never before. This means reducing our prices to a competitive level.” He adds that customers have their own reasons for choosing a laptop, but yes, the mobility factor certainly plays a big role. According to sellers, unbranded laptops don’t sell. The branded ones are the ones that sell a lot, especially, HP Compaq and Acer. A big factor is the narrowing price gap, and the warranty and support back-up which comes with a branded product. An assembled PC, from a shop, PC Guide, at Lamington Road costs Rs 20,000. The box comes with an Intel Core 2 Duo, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Disk. In comparison, an Acer IE 3450 laptop, with Intel Core 2 Duo, 1 GB RAM, 160 GB Hard Disk, DVD writer and 19 inch TFT widescreen costs Rs 27,499 at Hypercity mall. Despite the fact that laptops are the craze of the nation, the demand for desktops will always remain. The manager at Megahertz Systems Pvt Ltd., another authorised HP Compaq, Lenovo dealer says, “At the end of the day, the desktop is cheaper for the same amount of computing power. Some people, even today, come with a fixed budget and a desktop fits perfectly.” He adds that although the desktop is not as classy, it still has its advantages. “A laptop cannot be customised, whereas this is comparatively easier in a desktop. Maintenance costs of a desktop are lower compared to a desktop.”

Indians sued for ‘ copying’ Scrabble

THE Kolkata- based creators of a Scrabble knockoff that has become one of the most popular activities on Facebook were sued on Thursday by Hasbro Inc, the company that owns the word game’s North American rights. The suit against Scrabulous’ creators comes less than two weeks after the release of an authorised version of Scrabble for Facebook. The lawsuit, filed in US district court in New York, named brothers Rajat and Jayant Agarwalla, who created the programme, as defendants along with their Web design and technology company, RJ Softwares. Hasbro said in its lawsuit that Scrabulous violates its copyright and trademarks. Separately, Hasbro asked Facebook to block the game. Scrabulous has attracted some half- million daily users ever since it was introduced on Facebook.

Jul 24, 2008

Google Launches Knol, the Wikipedia Alternative

Google has launched Knol (from: knowledge), the Wikipedia alternative that both polices and rewards contributers. The reward mechanism is due to integration of AdSense into the articles, with a revenue share between the authors of a particular topic.

Blogs are great for quickly and easily getting your latest writing out to your readers, while knols are better for when you want to write an authoritative article on a single topic. The tone is more formal, and, while it's easy to update the content and keep it fresh, knols aren't designed for continuously posting new content or threading. Know how to fix a leaky toilet, but don't want to write a blog about fixing up your house? In that case, Knol is for you.

Except for the different format, you'll get all the things you've come to expect from Blogger in Knol. Like Blogger, Knol has simple web authoring tools that make it easy to collaborate, co-author, and publish. It has community features as well: Your readers will be able to add comments and rate your article, and, if you want, they'll be able to suggest edits that you can then either accept or reject. And, just like in Blogger, you can also choose to include ads from AdSense in your knols to perhaps make a little money.

One other important difference between Knol and Blogger is that Knol encourages you to reveal your true identity. Knols are meant to be authoritative articles, and, therefore, they have a strong focus on authors and their credentials. We feel that this focus will help ensure that authors get credit for their work, make the content more credible.

All in all, we think Knol will be a great new way for you to share what you know, inform people about an issue that is important to you, raise your profile as an expert in your field, and maybe even make some money from ads. Create your Knol right now for free.

Haier Ready for the 'Green Olympics'

Over 60,000 Haier Products Installed in Olympic Venues

Haier, the world's fourth largest white goods manufacturer and the official
white goods sponsor of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, announced today that it
has provided over 60,000 environmentally-friendly and energy-efficient products
to the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad
(BOCOG). Products such as refrigerators, air-conditioners, washing machines
and water heaters will be used throughout the Olympic venues.

Focusing on the mission of the Beijing Olympic Games -- "Green Olympics,
High-tech Olympics, People's Olympics" -- and using its experience as provider
of air-conditioners to the Athens 2004 Olympic stadium, Haier has designed a
complete line of green products for the Beijing Games. 31 categories of Haier
products have been installed in all Olympic venues in Beijing and the co-host
cities. The Olympic products are also on sale throughout China to meet the
consumers' need.

Haier has supplied all venues with 13,236 refrigerators, all CFC-free, with
5,353 using carbon dioxide as a natural refrigerant.

1,500 green washing machines have been installed in 18 laundries
established by Haier in the Olympic Village and the Media Village to provide
quick and efficient laundry services for all athletes, officials and
journalists. This includes 530 detergent-free washing machines and over 700
double-driven washing machines. The International Electrotechnical Commission
(IEC) has chosen the technologies used in these washing machines to become an
international standard.

Haier also installed 2,864 square meters of solar power panels for
air-conditioners and water heaters in the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center, the
Beijing Olympic Green Tennis Court and the Olympic Village Restaurant.
According to Haier's calculation, this energy-effective system will reduce CO2
emissions by approximately 2,140 tons per year.

Olympic venues are cooled using the Haier 08 Olympic wind air-conditioner,
which is the only air-conditioner providing "Grade A" fresh air. It
incorporates a self-cleaning function to keep the air filter clean and
unobstructed, ensuring cleaner air, while also saving energy.

"We are very grateful for the energy-efficient and non-polluting appliances
that Haier has provided to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games. These state of the
art products are installed in all venues and will ease the daily life of all
athletes, journalists, visitors and staff participating in the Games, allowing
them to focus on their important work," said Mr. Chen Feng, Marketing
Department Deputy Director, Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the
XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG).

"We are proud to support the Beijing Olympic Games. The Olympics is the
most exciting sports event in the world. As the world's 4th largest white
goods manufacturer, Haier is glad to provide the best products and services to
the leading athletes from all over the world," said Haier Group SVP Mr. ZHOU

Haier Group Co. Ltd. signed a contract with the Beijing Organizing
Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG) in Qingdao on August 12,
2005, making Haier the first official home appliances supplier in the history
of the Olympic Games.

Jul 23, 2008

iPhone 3G Out in India Next Month!

Here we have it folks, an exclusive on the iPhone's availability in India. When, how much, what features, software -- everything you ever wanted to know about the iPhone 3G in India! We know you want to get to the meat of the matter, so without further ado, here's what you need to know:

> iPhone 3G Availability: Vodafone to have a 15 day launch advantage (available August '08 through Vodafone, and late Aug/September '08 through Airtel)
> Model: Initially, the 8GB version only

> Price: Rs. 11,500 to Rs. 12,000 (note: U.S. price of the 8GB iPhone 3G is $199)

> Applications: App Store will be available

> App prices: Application prices may see a revision to suit Indian market

> 3G: No fixed date for 3G availability; expected sometime later this year

> GPS: Present on the Indian version as well

> Grey-market availability: Almost nowhere to be seen. One store expects to sell it next week at Rs. 50,000

While we all await the release of the iPhone 3G in India, some questions are pressing. In many ways, the iPhone is a platform - a means and a tool to unlock far greater features through new and sundry software. Until recently, the only means of installing software not produced by Apple was through illegal avenues. Now though, with the launch of the App Store, Apple has brought third-party software under a legal umbrella. Thus, the first question is this: will we, in India, get access to the same App Store that the people in the U.S. and other western countries enjoy? Further, would pricing be in Rupees or would we need to pay in Dollars? What about 3G - a feature so central to the iPhone that it's part of its name, its identity - will the iPhone be released along with 3G coverage?

To put it simply, will the iPhone offer the same value proposition in India, as it does abroad? We try and answer some of these burning questions here in this TechTree exclusive.

We contacted the necessary parties at Apple, Vodafone and Airtel - the latter being iPhone's official carriers in India - to get the required answers. While Apple and Vodafone were tight-lipped about release details, we struck gold with Airtel. Our source at Airtel, who wishes to remain anonymous, gave us valuable insight. Most of it, good news.

According to our source, the iPhone 3G will bring along most of the software goodies that are available in the West. In fact, the source went on to add, some of the features will be customized to suit the Indian tariff. The source confirmed that we would also be able to purchase software from the App Store with a possibly of a revised price for the Indian consumer, quickly adding that the price revision is not set in stone.

Let's move on to the meat of the matter - when will the iPhone be available in India?

When I last spoke to our source from Airtel, I was told that the iPhone 3G launch was scheduled for the 25th of August, with the caveat that the date may be pushed to early September for supply reasons. Apparently, the number of pre-orders for the iPhone have exceeded the initial product allotment by Apple.

Interestingly, our source from Airtel confirmed that Vodafone will be the first to introduce the iPhone 3G in India, with a 15-day launch advantage over Airtel, thanks to Vodafone's global tie-ups. If we are to believe Airtel, Vodafone should introduce the iPhone 3G by end of August at least. That's only a month from now!

So does this mean Vodafone will get to gorge on the subscription of maximum number of iPhone-hungry Indians due to the company's first-in-line advantage? Is the iPhone 3G is likely to become a "Vodafone product"?

One would obviously like to think so, but Airtel differs on this aspect. Our source assertively stated that Vodafone hasn't been able to create the kind of impact on the prospective iPhone buyers as Airtel has with its aggressive marketing. The latter added, "We will make sure we don t downplay them (Vodafone), but we will create an impact of our own."

There has been a lot of speculation over the price of the iPhone. Initially, only the 8 GB version of the iPhone 3G will be officially launched in India. The handset is expected to cost between Rs. 11,500 and Rs. 12,000, says our source. Compare this to the $199 price tag of the 8GB version in the U.S, and it's obvious that India is once again going to feel the import-duty pinch. Moreover, this price does not include the data plan costs that a user will have to bear every month, the details of which will only be out by the 15th of August, our source indicated. There are still deliberations being made on the specifics of the plan, we were told.

If you want the iPhone 3G right away, you need to look to the grey market. The scene there isn't all rosy though, with rumors flying of Airtel and Vodafone clamping down on parallel imports. The market-reality seemed to lend credence to these rumors as most vendors we contacted told us that the iPhone (old model or new) was unavailable for purchase. One Mr. Munshi Adnan, owner of a shop called "Gadgets" at Heera Panna, in Mumbai, promises to offer the iPhone 3G next week. He claimed to have it around July 28th, and quoted a princely sum of Rs. 40,000 to Rs. 50,000!

While all of the above is largely good news, the bad news comes in the garb of the key feature: 3G. Nobody seemed willing to place a date on 3G availability in India, the arrival of which is still a rather nebulous 'sometime late this year'. We have a bad feeling about this. Our source did confirm though that GPS (a feature through which the iPhone 3G can track your location) would be a present in the Indian avatar of the Apple iPhone 3G.

So there you have it! Mostly good news for those of us who have waited for the release date of this product.


Forget glasses, wear your hi- tech windshield instead

WHEN Coke bottle glasses just won’t cut it for safe driving, a futuristic windshield might do the trick. General Motors Corp. ( GM) researchers are working on a windshield that combines lasers, infrared sensors and a camera to take what’s happening on the road and enhance it, so aging drivers with vision problems are able to see a bit more clearly. Though it’s only in the research stage now, the technology soon will be more useful than ever. The 65 and older population in the US will nearly double in about 20 years, meaning more people will be struggling to see the road like they used to. GM’s new windshield won’t improve their vision, but it will make objects stand out that could otherwise go unnoticed by an aged eye. At the same time, the developers say the technology won’t cause drivers to plow into trees. It is enhancing just a few objects that are already in a driver’s view, not splashing distracting information onto the glass. For example, during a foggy drive, a laser projects a blue line onto the windshield that follows the edge of the road. Or if infrared sensors detect a person or animal in the driver’s path during a night drive, its outline is projected on the windshield to highlight its location. It’s possible because of a transparent coating on the windshield that lights up when struck by ultraviolet light. Of course, much more goes into it than that. Sensors have to determine the position of the car in relation to the road, while other devices track the driver’s head and eye movement to make sure the image on the windshield isn’t skewed. The technological issues mean it probably will be a while before the view through the windshield of a Buick looks anything like a pilot’s head- up display in an F- 16. “ You can see the difficulty of implementing technology like this,” GM researcher Thomas Seder said. “ It’s also been a bit of a struggle to get skeptics to see how helpful the windshield could be,” he added. The windshield is designed specifically for older drivers, who have vision problems at a much higher rate than other age groups. Seder said he wants to provide technology that helps them, but at the same time isn’t distracting or overwhelming. American Association of Retired Persons ( AARP) spokeswoman Nancy Thompson said she believes drivers heading toward old age will embrace the technology. “ Older adults are like adults of all ages,” she said. “ They want to drive.”

Matrimonials on Dish TV soon

DIRECt- to- Home service provider DishTV has tied up with wedding portal Shaadi. com to launch an interactive service on its platform, Shaadi Active. Through this initiative, the profiles on Shaadi. com would be available to 3.5 million viewers of DishTV, who would subsequently be able to choose a profile from them, a statement from DishTV said on Tuesday. DishTV CEO Vinay Agarwal said, DishTV already provides 205 channels and services to its discerning subscriber base. Going forward our emphasis would be entering into new arenas where subscribers will enjoy completely new genres beyond the realm of entertainment through the DishTV.

Jul 21, 2008

Games get to the next level with AI boost

VIDEOGAMES are getting smarter with virtual enemies improvising during battles, storylines shifting according to moral choices and in- game characters sending text messages to players for help. Titles unveiled at the recent Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles feature artificial intelligence (AI), making in- game worlds more realistic and less predictable. “There was alot we had to do,” Peter Hines of Bethesda Softworks said. The studio’s eagerly- awaited Fallout 3 shooter game, set in apost nuclear war Washington DC, lets enemies change tactics depending on what players do. “They are being smart about being in acombat situation,” Hines said. The game is also designed so that players’ choices affect computer- controlled factions which become their allies or enemies. AProject Origin action- horror game, built by Monolith Productions for Warner Interactive Studios, boasts of vastly enhanced AI that makes enemies act realistically and use environments to their advantage. “See, he threw the car door open because it was the smartest way to take cover,” aMonolith developer said of an on- screen adversary while showing the game.“ That isn’t scripted. He is figuring it out as he goes.” Gearbox Software’s Borderlands video game generates anear- endless array of missions, enemies, environments and weapons. “Borderlands is an evolutionary leap in game design and technology,” 2K Games president, Christoph Hartmann said when it was announced that the title will be published by his firm’s parent company, Take- Two Interactive. “Borderlands is set on alawless planet called Pandora where bandits rove badlands with avery ‘Mad Max’ vibe,” Gearbox president Randy Pickford said while demonstrating the game. The videogame’s software has generated more than half amillion weapons and hidden them about Pandora, surprising even its creators. “Wow, that’s acool gun and it has a blade,” Pickford said to acolleague playing the game. Lionshead Studio built AI into an animated dog that serves as an enviable companion for players of Fable 2, according to the firm’s creative director Peter Molyneaux. “Fable 2also has adynamic landscape that changes depending on whether players prefer to visit towns, linger in faux taverns, or hack and slash adversaries, “Molyneaux said during an E3 preview of the game. Nintendo software developer Katsuya Eguchi’s Animal Crossing game is inhabited by creatures. The lives of the creatures go on even when the players are not in- world. “Even when you aren’t playing the game the animals get up in the morning and go to bed at night,” Eguchi said. The multi- player online game for Nintendo’s Wii consoles is time- synched to give people the illusion that they are playing together, no matter when they venture into the virtual realm. Nintendo is also marketing MotionPlus devices that get attached to Wii controllers so the motion- sensing devices pick up more nuanced movements. Sony Online Entertainment is putting finishing touches on an online secret agent game called The Agency that gives players command of operatives that work around the clock. If operatives need help, they can send real- world team leaders email or mobile telephone text messages, Matt Wilson of The Agency development team said. You might send an operative to find aColombian drug lord, then be sitting in abar and get atext message telling you he found the target, Wilson said. The bad news is he was captured and they want amillion dollars ransom or they’ll kill him. You’ll hit 1on the phone to pay the ransom or 2 to refuse.

Jul 20, 2008

Free 2D and 3D Graphics Tools

Photo and 3D editing tools are the most expensive applications on the market, with some costing many thousands of dollars. Several alternatives, however, do a very good job and cost you nothing.


Photoshop's popularity is as high as its list price, a stunning $999. (That's "stunning" as in Taser.) You can, of course, find that package for less, even for free if you are willing to prowl the Internet's dark alleys looking for a literal steal. PhotoFiltre, on the other hand, will make you an honest artist/designer/photographer, and you don't have to hock your grandmother's wedding ring--or your soul--to enjoy it.

The important difference between PhotoFiltre and the more elaborate Photoshop is PhotoFiltre's simplicity--in use, not in what it can accomplish. Its tools and menus, for one thing, are more evenly distributed, reducing the need to plow deep into the program's interface just to flip an image 90 degrees.

PhotoFiltre lacks some of Photoshop's professional abilities, such as handling layers, as well as more arcane features, such as stitching photos into a panorama and altering perspective. But PhotoFiltre does have an arsenal of plug-ins that provide some tricks of their own, such as a filter that emphasizes shadows, highlights, or both, without your having to select the areas of dark and light.

A beautiful rippling water reflection is only three clicks away. Most effects, in fact, take only a couple of clicks. PhotoFiltre doesn't have Photoshop's jam-packed dialog boxes that permit the fatally fastidious to fiddle with a photo for hours. It's fast. It's simple. It's powerful. It works. And it's free.

Free PhotoFiltre Download


So you can't do everything in PhotoFiltre that you can in Photoshop. That's just more proof that one-stop shopping is overrated. Take, for example, Photoshop's autostitching, which Adobe prefers to call "photomerge." By either name, the feature attempts to piece and blend together two or more photographs to create a panorama. Photoshop does a decent job of it, although inevitably you must tell the application what photos should go together and in what order, and you have to make sure that up is the same direction in each picture. If you give Photoshop that many hints, it can handle the rest, creating a seamless expanse of photography.

But whether Photoshop is too rich for your pocketbook or you can pay for it from petty cash, you should get to know Autostitch, a free tool dedicated to panoramas. In addition to producing a panorama with the same perfection found in Photoshop, Autostitch can look at a PC folder packed with pictures and select photos that are screaming to be joined in panoramic splendor.

Created by Matthew Brown and David Lowe of the University of British Columbia, Autostitch comes with a screen full of settings for controlling how the final product should look, but most of them are so esoteric that fiddling with them, trying to unravel their purpose, is the sort of thing that can lead only to madness. Ignore the controls. Just print panoramas with panache, and thumb your nose at Photoshop.

Free Autostitch Download

Maya Personal Learning Edition

Today's programs for creating animation are amazing. They can turn the most klutsy artist into a Walt Disney or Chuck Jones by automating the intricate, finger-busting work of turning thousands of drawings into a few seconds of animation. Just as incredible are such programs' prices: Autodesk 3ds Max 2008 costs $3495 retail, and Autodesk Maya Unlimited 2008 can be yours for a trifling $6995. Or, you can pay nothing. Zilch. Nada. That'll get you a sizable chunk of what goes into the latest version of Autodesk Maya.

Autodesk must be selling enough of those high-priced programs to feel good about giving away free copies of Maya Personal Learning Edition. The program doesn't include all the goodies found in its professional counterparts. It lacks the speed with which the other applications render complicated images, and it also omits the newest innovations, such as the latest shaders and skin editors. It does, however, give you the rigging and animation technologies that let characters move with both soft and rigid body dynamics, Maya paint effects, a complete particle system, toon shading, and four renderers. Though you have no tech support to rely on, you can find oodles of documentation, demonstrations, and online discussion groups.

Free Maya Personal Learning Edition Download

Blender 3D

If Maya PLE doesn't seem robust enough, take a look at another animation program, Blender 3D. It's a sterling example of what can be accomplished within the GNU free-software movement, and it can definitely hold its head high when compared with commercial animation programs. The work it turns out is vividly detailed--check out the screen shots--and movements are convincingly smooth.

Folks frequently use it to build complex avatars and environments on sites such as the IMVU.com 3D chat system. The reason is pretty simple: Blender has all the features you need to produce interactive 3D graphics and games that are compatible across platforms. Its suite of features allows modeling, rendering, and postproduction polishing.

Free Blender 3D Download

Moto ROKR E8 Review

Some years back, when Motorola launched the MotoRAZR it became the phone that you must have. Here it was, a premium product backed by a great advertising campaign. People really wanted the product and though it was expensive, it did rather well initially. But as they say, good things don’t last forever. There were massive price drops, and the device that once cost a little under Rs 30,000 was available for around Rs 10,000. Plus, beyond the looks, the RAZR was a little thin on features. Motorola’s rivals – Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson – had more staidlooking products, but they were featureloaded: big cameras, big screens, big games, name it and they had it. Unfortunately, Motorola was hamstrung by a management crisis back in the US and seemed to stop developing devices. The RAZR was it. And it seemingly outshone the Motorola brand. But Motorola’s products are fighting back, and I have been using the new ROKR E8 for a while now. I won’t say that I love the device terribly – if I had to have a Motorola, it would be the RAZR2, a. k. a Moto V8. But the ROKR isn’t bad, Motorola has given the device a ‘ haptic touch’ ( a sort of touch feedback – think of a video game controller) and a morphing function on the keypad, which changes the key functions when you change modes – the music buttons or camera keys, for example. Unlike Samsung and LG products, which do similar things on a LED screen, the Moto ROKR does this on a hard keypad. There are issues, though. The ROKR E8 doesn’t look that great. The screen is rather large at 320x240, and the pixels look tiny when compared to the rest of the device, but video playback is very good. The touchsensitive scroll- wheel takes a lot of getting used to. But it is a music- optimised device, and one has to concede that the system does not sound bad at all. What I really liked was the new Ferrarithemed Motorola V9 ( the 3G version of the RAZR2). With its Ferrari- branded case and Scuderia Red themes, it looks darn nice. And I’m sure, all those Ferrari fanboys down at Barrique on Sundays watching the F1 screening would get themselves one of these.

Jul 19, 2008

Wii top- selling gaming console in US

NINTENDO said on Thursday that its globally popular Wii has become the topselling video game console in the US, a crown coveted by rivals Microsoft and Sony. Market- tracking firm NPD Group reports 6,66,000 Wii consoles were sold in the US in June, raising the total sales count in the country to nearly 10.9 million units. Wii sales eclipsed those of Microsoft’s Xbox 360, which was launched a year before Wii was released in November of 2006, according to industry figures. Wii consoles are credited with expanding the video game market beyond hardcore gamers with simple motion- sensing controllers and group- oriented games. “ As we have demonstrated this week during the E3 summit, Wii continues to pioneer new ways for people to interact with their video games and with one another,” Nintendo marketing vice president Cammie Dunaway said in a statement. AFP

Get ready for diversified gaming

THE video game industry looks set for strong growth for at least another year or two, driven by geographical expansion, a strong hardware lineup and growing pool of casual gamers, industry executives said. In a move to capitalise on emerging economies, Sony Corp’s game unit said, at the E3 video game trade show this week, it will launch operations in Argentina, Columbia and Peru by March 2009 — its first step into the South American market. Rival Nintendo Co Ltd aims to start offering its Wii console in China this year. Hardware makers’ broader reach beyond the established markets of North America, Europe and Japan would open up new business opportunities for hundreds of software makers and follow the lead of other technology sectors turning to emerging markets for growth. “ Game makers like us are now trying to get into vibrant regions as Latin America, Eastern Europe, Russia and Asia,” Konami Corp executive corporate officer Kazumi Kitaue said on the sidelines of the E3. Another growth driver is the widest variety ever of game hardware available, which caters to a broader range of game players and enables software publishers to create multiple revenue streams from a single title. Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii compete with one another in the console market. The biggest seller of all time, last generation’s Sony machine, PlayStation 2, is also still thriving. “ The video game industry has never before had a market where this many hardware models co- exist actively,” Rakuten Securities analyst Yasuo Imanaka said. “ This creates a very favourable business environment for software makers,” he said. Global video game sales are likely to grow 15.2 per cent this year to $ 48.3 billion, followed by a 9.3 per cent rise to $ 52.8 billion in 2009, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates. The industry is also benefiting from a new group of casual, or light, gamers, as Nintendo has broadened the gaming population beyond the traditional user base of young males, with its intuitive, easy- to- use games such as Wii Sports. “ The Wii has opened up an entirely new set of gamers that weren’t there before,” Electronic Arts Games Label President Frank Gibeau said. Reuters

Jul 16, 2008

Intel brings in new chips, the centrino 2 platform

INTEL Corp rolled out anew batch of chips for laptops that promises longer battery life and better graphics- rendering abilities, the company’s latest salvo against smaller rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc (AMD). Both companies are trying to capture the attention of computer buyers looking for crisper high- definition video playback on their laptops and less battery drain, adifficult balancing act. The latest from Intel is its new Centrino 2platform —apackage that includes aprocessor, related chipset and wireless communications chip. Intel is releasing five new processors in different versions of the bundle. Three of those use just 25 watts of energy, a30 per cent reduction from the previous generation, Intel said. Power consumption is an area where Intel has an advantage because it has moved faster than AMD to amanufacturing process that lowers the energy use of its chips and the cost of making them. AMD, meanwhile, has dramatically improved the visual capabilities of its chips with the 2006 acquisition of graphics chip maker ATI Technologies, a$5.6 billion deal that saddled AMD with substantial debt. AP

Trai wants cable operators to be licensed

TELECOM Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Tuesday recommended that the cable TV industry and the multi- system operators (MSO) in the country should be brought under licensing, amove aimed at restructuring the fragmented industry. Under the proposed license regime, the regulator suggests imposition of an entry fee of Rs 10,000- Rs 1lakh along with cess on the cable operators. “No person shall operate a cable television network unless he is licensed as acable operator,” said Trai in the draft recommendations on Restructuring of Cable TV Sector. An entry fee of Rs 10,000 has been recommended for district level cable TV licence and Rs 1 Lakh for astate cable TV service licence. The licence would be valid for five years. The regulator has also recommended aseparate licensing provision for MSOs, who it says should be introduced as an entity separate from cable TV operators. The MSO’s main function is to aggregate content from different broadcasters and provide it to the local cable operators (LCOs). Therefore, the regulatory framework for the MSOs should be different from LCOs. The entry fee for district level MSO licence shall be Rs 1lakh and net worth Rs 5 lakh. The entry fee for state level MSO licence has been proposed at Rs 10 lakh and net worth at Rs 10 lakh. India’s cable TV industry, which covered 78 million households at the end of 2007, is facing challenges of technology, resources and fragmented distribution, leading the regulator to examine the possibilities of restructuring. Due to the absence of any licensing and regulatory framework for the cable TV sector, the growth so far may not be sustainable and could slow down the future development and inclusion of advance services in the network, said Trai. There is also fierce competition to existing conventional cable TV operators from those who use advance distribution technologies like direct- tohome (DTH), head- end in the sky (HITS) and Internet Protocol TV (IPTV), the regulator said. PTI

In four years 40 per cent of homes in UK to have 100Mbps internet connection

FOLKS, it is time to migrate to the United Kingdom. British Telecom announced on Tuesday that in the next four years, it will wire more than 40 per cent of British homes with Internet connection speeds of up to 100 Mbps, 30 times faster than the existing 8Mbps speeds that amajority of the British have and around 400 times faster than the 256 Kbps broadband speeds in most Indian homes. It’s not going to be cheap —BT will spend around £1.5 billion to wire more than 10 million homes with fibre- optic cables that will cut the traditional lastmile problem. Historically, European nations have been breaking broadband barriers faster than any other region, including the US. Last July, a 75- year- old Swedish woman, Sigbritt Lothberg, became the person with the world’s fastest Internet connection — amindboggling 40 Gbps. Thanks to that, she can simultaneously watch 1500 highdefinition channels or download ahigh- definition DVD movie in two seconds. Both the Swedish connection as well as the British technology use fibre- optic cables that, in theory, make distances irrelevant. For instance, Lothberg’s service provider was 2000 km away, and yet, there was no loss of speed.

iphone : Is it worth the wait ?

IT is just as well that Apple’s 3G iPhone will release in India only in September (or later) though it released in 22 other countries on July 11. By then, Indian consumers — smart and demanding as we are about mobile products and services — would have gotten reports whether the wait is worth it or not. However, before we even evaluate that, afew gripes. First up, what’s the big deal about the iPhone’s 3G variant in India, since no Indian service provider has a3G network in any case (the government is just about waking up to 3G and talking of auctioning licences)? At present, the fastest wireless network we have is Edge, on which most smartphones —including the BlackBerry —work. Second, GPS navigation. Online mapping in India is still at aprimitive stage, compared to mapping networks in the US or Europe, or even Australia. I am willing to lay a wager on this, but at most times you will not get even the names on the map to synchronise with the names that someone told you about. The problem with mapping in India is not the technology, but the nomenclature of roads, something that keeps changing with changing governments and revolving ideologies. But what my friends from the US told me next bamboozled me more than a Class 4 Science question from Kya Aap Paanchvi Pass Se Tez Hain? might flummox a bank clerk from Kakinada — the Apple iPhone does not have a video recorder. Hell and damnation, how does any high-end phone in India not have a camera that records video?
Pricing of the iPhone remains an issue
Just as the physicist Stephen Hawking once said that the inclusion of even one mathematical formula will halve the sales of his groundbreaking book A Brief History of Time, it is possible that the lack of a video recorder could affect the sales of the iPhone. Most mid-end to high-end phones available in India come with standard video recording software and storage systems, and this is a challenge that Apple will have to face once it’s legally sold here (unlocked iPhones are everywhere, though). And yes, there is no way you can receive live TV, which you can on certain high-end Nokia models. What I am terribly excited about, though, is Apple’s Apps Store, a collection of 500 (and counting) software applications for the iPhone that can be either downloaded free, or for a charge of up to $10. For instance, the eBay auction machine is free, and so is TypePad, the blogging platform. A few games are also free to download. If both Airtel and Vodafone — the two networks that have promised to bring the iPhone to India — deliver on the Apps Store promise, then we could have a good thing going, primarily because the iPhone could then be a serious contender for the much-talked about convergent device. My biggest concern is pricing. There are just too many price bands (right from Rs 10,000 to Rs 27,000) being thrown around buzz town, and that is not a good sign. Both Airtel and Vodafone must come clean on the phone’s pricing or face a clientele that is not sure what value to put on a premium product such as the iPhone. So while we wait, we wait with a certain amount of scepticism.

Jul 12, 2008

Samsung brings in new handset the i780

GLOBAL mobile handset major Samsung Mobile on Friday launched its latest business phone, SGH –i780, in Bangalore at the Tech Open Golf tournament. Sunil Dutt, country head, Samsung Telecommunications said, “The i780 will be liked by business users and our tech savvy consumers on account of its business applications ,ease of use and stunning form factor.” IT professionals from Cognizant, Wipro, IBM, Network Solutions, Mistral and Fidelity participated in the launch.

Trai for higher 3G auction price

TELECOM Regulatory Authority of India (Trai) on Friday said it has agreed to the proposal of the department of telecommunications (DoT) to hike the base price for third generation (3G) spectrum auction. “We have agreed to the DoT’s recommendations that the reserve price should be raised,” Trai chairman Nripendra Mishra said, adding that the all successful 3G bidders will have to match the highest bid. DoT had proposed to raise the base price for auction to about Rs 2,200 crore for apan- India licence. Currently, the minimum bid price for the licence is Rs 1,400 crore for 3G. Earlier, Trai was not in favour of raising the reserve price. But DoT asked it to reconsider the recommendation that the reserve price of spectrum should not be raised and new players should not be allowed in the bidding process of the auction.

Delhi not a hot spot if you want to go online anytime

WHEN IT comes to wireless internet access or Wi- Fi, Delhi, which is soon going to host the Commonwealth Games, stands nowhere near other world capitals, and is even lagging behind other Indian cities like Bangalore.
There aren’t many Wi- Fi hotspots in the Capital, when one takes into view Delhi’s population and the professionals and tourists travelling here. MTNL has put up 11 Wi- Fi hotspots —in Electronic Niketan (CGO Complex), India Habitat Centre, Palam airport (domestic departure), the Election Commission, Eastern Court and two corporate offices of MTNL.
There is limited Wi- Fi connectivity in commercial public spaces such as afew Cafe Coffee Day and Barista outlets and major hotels, where in any case Wi- Fi connectivity is quite expensive and limited to hotel guests.
Branded apartment complexes, through IT start- ups like O- Zone Private Limited and other medium- sized IT service providers, are also providing Wi- Fi connectivity. Then there’s Tata Communications, which has rolled out 60 Wi- Fi hotspots in the city, with plans to increase it to 80 by the end of this year.

‘The Wi- Fi service at airport never works”

“For Wi- Fi connectivity in all regions of Delhi, the government is considering aframework that brings together all existing technologies like GPRS, Wi- Fi and broadband. Also there is WiMax (Worldwide Inter- operability for Microwave Access), which is the latest in the field. The final decision will be taken on the basis of the economics involved,” said Deepak Virmani, deputy secretary, information technology, Delhi government.
Considering the ministry of communications and information technology had declared 2007 as the Year of Broadband, the speed of increasing density of Wi- Fi hotspots is far from satisfactory. Studies done on Wi- Fi growth indicate greater investment is needed to improve the Wi- Fi infrastructure. Astudy by Bangalore- based Tonse Telecom and Wi- Fi Alliance —aglobal, non- profit industry association of over 300 member companies devoted to promoting the growth of Wireless Local Area Networks (WLANs) —shows India’s Wi- Fi market will touch $890 million or Rs 3,852 crore by 2012.
According to aresearch done by FICCI, the combined Wi- Fi market (consisting of WLAN networking gear, systems integration, software services and not including embedded devices and laptops) is expected to exceed $744 million dollars or Rs 3,206 crore by 2012.
“Wi-Fi has a bright future in Delhi and across India,” said Bobby Sarin, CEO of O-Zone Private Limited, which is providing Wi-Fi connectivity in apartment complexes being built by DLF and Ansals, and shopping malls.Not having easy wireless internet access anytime poses a lot of difficulty to students and professionals

Sources in the government and private telecom players say the Centre has not firmed up a master plan for making Delhi Wi-Fi enabled. Although it does have in place a short-term project called ‘Unwire Delhi’, it has made little progress as there has been no major addition in the number of public hotspots. The ‘Unwire Delhi’ project seeks to provide Wi-Fi access at low cost and involves participation of government and private companies to provide connectivity in public spaces and institutions with large number of footfalls. Delhi’s IT department is working on blueprint projects in Connaught Place, South Extension and Nehru Place and hopes to complete them by August this year after which the process of providing more hotspots for Wi- Fi access will be speeded up. But as of now, wireless internet access is still scarce for people who are on the move. To top it, top players like Airtel, Vodafone and Idea are keeping the business of public W-Fi access services at an arm’s length. A leading private provider of Wi-Fi connectivity said when the government invited tenders for the Connaught Place ‘Unwire Delhi’ project, it received a lukewarm response as big players were unhappy about the revenue model.
A sense of urgency too seems to be missing in planning for the Commonwealth Games when it comes to Wi-Fi connectivity. A visit to the Commonwealth Games website showed the government did not mention IT, leave alone Wi-Fi access, as one of its key infrastructure focus areas. Lack of sufficient Wi-Fi hoptspots affects visitors and citizens. “I do a lot of domestic travelling. In Delhi it’s very difficult to get Wi-Fi access. The government does not provide any information about Wi-Fi hotspots,” said Shantanu Chakraborthy, a management consultant. Technology-adoption is another area where the state and the central governments will have to act fast. Wi-Fi is already being challenged by WiMAX, a long range system that covers many kilometres, while Wi-Fi is a shorter wireless range system that covers a limited area.
The government is focusing on providing unwired high-speed internet connectivity by setting up Wi-Fi kiosks at places of tourist interest, railway stations, hotels et al. But it has not issued tenders for these projects, though it has identified bidders including MTNL, Net4 India, O-Zone, Spectranet, Tulip IT Services and Microsense. “Internet connectivity, whether dial-up or wireless, is key for business needs. Delhi must speed up its Wi-Fi density,” said Bijoy Bannerjee, an IT specialist with Infosys.

Top 10 Wi-fi Countries
Rank Countries Locations
1 United States 62,792
2 United Kingdom 30,052
3 France 22,668
4 South Korea 21,832
5 Germany 14,745
6 Japan 10,853
7 Russian Federation 10,536
8 Spain 5,505
9 Taiwan 4,381
10 Switzerland 3,938
source: jiwire.com
India 952

Delhi 69
Banglore 334
New York 817
Paris 3503
Tokyo 2133

Jul 11, 2008


Essel Group owned direct-to-home (DTH) service DishTV is all set to extend its satellite channel capacity to 420 with the launch of its own satellite Argani scheduled by the end of June this year. Once operational, the satellite would also enable DishTV to provide broadband internet service to its subscribers.

DishTV, which has offered a free-of-cost set top box (STB) to all new subscribers, is looking at doubling its customer base of 310,000 in next 45 days. The company's plan to double customer base comes ahead of its Rs 800 crore satellite project being handled by Chinese satellite company ProtoStar.

Speaking to Business Standard, KK Mehkarkar, head of distribution network (Maharashtra) and Director of Meltek Infosystems, DishTV, said, "Protostar has almost finalised the schedule for launching DishTV's satellite from Kourou in French Guyana. We expect the launch by the end of June and the satellite would be operational by July. We will then have additional 14 Ku-band and 12 c-band transponders for satellite TV broadcast."

DishTV currently holds nine c-band transponders on a European satellite NSS-6 and can show 220 TV channels.

Being the oldest company in the market, it enjoys market leadership compared with its peers Prasarbharati's DD Direct Plus, Tata Sky and Sun TV services. "We are planning to provide internet connection through the DTH platform. Once the new satellite is operational, internet services would be feasible technically. Current DishTV users would have to exchange their STBs and dish to avail the internet service," Mehkarkar added.

With the launch of its satellite and the entry of new players such as Reliance and Airtel in the DTH market, DishTV has decided to offer free STBs to all its new subscribers. New subscribers who opt for the annual maxi package worth Rs 3,990 will also get 67 movies-on-demand (MoD) free of cost. -BusinessStandard

Scientists develop Internet that is 60 times faster

Scientists have developed what they claim is a small scratch on a piece of glass, which will make the Internet nearly 60 times faster and give users unlimited, error-free access anywhere in the world.

"This is a critical building block and a fundamental advance on what is already out there. We are talking about networks that are potentially up to 100 times faster without costing the consumer any more," lead researcher Ben Eggleton at the University of Sydney said.

"The scratched glass we have developed is actually a Photonic Integrated Circuit. This circuit uses the ‘scratch' as a guide or a switching path for information — kind of like when trains are switched from one track to another — except this switch takes only one picosecond to change tracks. This means that in one second the switch is turning on and off about one million times."

Though the initial demonstration has shown that it is possible to achieve speeds 60 times faster than many current networks, with further development, the process is likely to produce even faster results, according to the researchers.

Pick "Hottest Female Blogger" on Playboy

One cannot debate whether some sleazy blogger came up with this idea first but for now, the folks at Playboy are wondering which one of the tech-babes ruling the blogosphere is the sexiest. And once they figure it out, they're optimistic about privileging that oh-so-sexy babe to adorn the centerfold of their magazine.

Playboy says that they've scanned the Web for some of their favorite female bloggers and video bloggers (or "vloggers") from the worlds of finance, entertainment, tech, and sex.

And they've come up with a list of 9 women for their little contest; these include Xeni Jardin, Violet Blue, Julie Alexandria, Veronica Belmont, Amanda Congdon, Brigitte Dale, Sarah Lacy, Sarah Austin, and Natali Del Conte.

The candidates who've made it to this competition will be voted by you -- the public -- and based on each of these women's click-worthiness, Playboy will ask the winner to pose (in the nude?) for the magazine.

So, if you're not under-age (or if you are underage, and are reading this) and tech-blogging, or more importantly, tech-blogging by the fairer sex excites you, you should take a look at Playboy's contest here. Noone will know whether you cast your lecherous vote or not!source- techtree.com

‘Crackberrys’ wooed with tempting tariffs

RAJESH Singh, 34, an executive with Citibank, clocks a fourteen- hour workday on an average. Most of this time is spent on his BlackBerry. “I manage alarge portfolio of clients and this device helps me to send and receive e- mails while Iam on the move,” says Singh. He is not the only one hooked on to ‘smart’ phones like Canadian firm Research in Motion’s (RIM) BlackBerry. In fact, there is even aterm for people like him –‘crackberrys’, ajocular reference to drug addicts hooked on to crack, who get similar withdrawal symptoms without their fix. According to industry estimates there are over 11,4000 BlackBerry users in the country. According to another study, of the senior executives at India’s top 30 corporates, almost 95 per cent use smartphones such as BlackBerry.
Telcos are engaged in a price war to grab maximum no. of enterprise and retail users

Of the over 250 million mobile phone users in 2008, almost four per cent own smartphones. This number is likely to double by 2009, according to Gartner analyst, Anshul Gupta. However, the number of smartphones far exceeds the number of subscribers to features like BlackBerry’s killer ap, ‘push mail’, which pushes an e- mail arriving in auser’s mail server straight on to his phone. Without push mail, the Black- Berry would just be another clunky cellphone. But these users are highly profitable for service providers, since they tend to be stable, long- term and high- value customers. Service providers who offer BlackBerry and push mail services like Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance Communications and BPL Mobile are battling to get alarger slice of this lucrative market. The result: aprice war in the segment, with telecom companies competing to offer costeffective plans to both enterprise and retail consumers. Says aDelhi- based telecom analyst, “Telecom companies have rolled out aggressive tariff plans to capture alarge base of retail and enterprise clients. Tariffs of BlackBerry services will further come down with increasing competition.” Says an official of Reliance Communications, “The company has recently slashed the costs of the popular BlackBerry models and its rentals too have hit rock bottom. Prices will come down further in the near future.” Reliance is offering Black- Berry services for arental plan of Rs 249 and unlimited data access on aRs 1,099 plan. An advance rental plan of Rs 3,999 and Rs 6,999 for aperiod of six months and one year offer unlimited usage. While most companies are looking at cost cutting, usage of BlackBerry is being encouraged by both CEOs and chief technology officers (CTOs). Points out Ramesh Chandra, CTO with aleading IT company in Noida, “We had distributed BlackBerrys to almost 50 per cent of our senior management. This year, we have increased it to 90 per cent. The telecom companies are also ready to offer us competitive plans.” “With more and more corporates opting for BlackBerry services, tariffs will come down by almost 50 per cent by next year,” adds an executive from a leading telecom company. Says Gupta, “Smartphone usage in India has undergone adramatic change, with new technology platforms like Android that offers an open and comprehensive platform for mobile devices hitting the market.”-MailToday

Jul 10, 2008

TataSky ropes in Aamir Khan as brand ambassador

NEW DELHI : Direct-to-Home operator TataSky has roped in Bollywood actor Aamir Khan as its brand ambassador.
Aamir Khan would feature in all TataSky brand and product communication, including advertisements in TV, print and radio, the DTH operator said in a statement on Thursday.
Interestingly, TataSky's main rival Dish TV has Shah Rukh Khan as its brand ambassador.
Speaking on Aamir's association with the group, TataSky CEO and Managing Director Vikram Kaushik said that the Bollowood star perfectly fits with the brand.
"As our brand ambassador, he will be instrumental in communicating the benefits of TataSky to consumers across the country," Kaushik said.
TataSky is the second largest DTH service provider, with a subscriber base of two million.

Pioneer 400GB Blu-ray disc

Have you filled up your external hard drives and even Blu-ray's 25GB seems insufficient for storage?

Pioneer, a Japanese electronics maker has been working on an optical disc which can store 25GB per layer. So what's the difference you ask? Their discs consist of 16 layers of storage for a total of 400GB on a single disc as opposed to the max of 50GB for a dual layer Blu-ray disc. Pioneer says that the lens specification for reading their discs could be close enough to blue-ray for them to maintain compatibility but they make no promises as yet. They plan to demonstrate the tech at an industry conference next week. For now it seems the disc is read only but they will obviously add write capability to it before its commercial release.


Jul 7, 2008

Digital doomsday around the corner

The digital doomsday is around the corner. In exactly 1,273 days there will be a web chaos in the world as we run out of internet addresses. More than 85% of the available addresses have already been allocated and the rest will run out by 2011, according to a prediction by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

These are not the normal web addresses that you type into your browser’s window. These are the numerical internet protocol (IP) addresses that denote individual devices connected to the internet. They form the foundation for all online communications, from e-mail and web pages to voice chat and streaming video.

IP addresses are so basic to the success of the internet that you really do not need to know a website’s domain name if you know their IP. In fact, domain names are only a convenience for people who have better luck remembering to type, say, www.google.com, than they would have trying to remember Google’s IP address of

Whenever you type http://www.google.com on your browser, the browser sends a query off to a big telephone book in the sky and asks “Hey, what’s the IP address for google.com?”. This big telephone book, more commonly called a ‘Domain Name Server’ or DNS for short, returns to your browser. Your browser then heads off to Google’s website using the IP address as a map.

When the current IP address scheme, called Internet Protocol Version 4, was introduced in 1981, there were hardly 500 computers connected to the internet. The address makers at that time allowed for four billion addresses, thinking they would last for ever.

They have been nearly gobbled up in just under 30 years! As addresses run dry we will all feel the pinch: internet speeds will drop and new connections and services (such as internet phone calling) will either be expensive or simply impossible to obtain. The solution to the shortage is to upgrade to a new address protocol.

The internet protocols are prepared by the Internet Engineering Task Force, a large open international community of network designers, operators, vendors, and researchers.

concerned with the evolution of the internet architecture and the smooth operation of the internet.

The IETF is an organised activity of the internet society, a not-for-profit organisation founded in 1992 to provide leadership in internet related standards, education and policy.

The Society’s south and southeast Asian Bureau was established this January.

The India chapter is headquartered in Chennai.

The IETF is already prepared for the doomsday. It has devised a replacement system, called IPv6, more than a decade ago, providing enough addresses for billions upon billions of devices as well as improving internet phone and video calls, and possibly even helping to end e-mail spam.

Then why the doomsday predictions? The problem is that the new system is not really compatible with the internet of today. If, for example, Google wants to support IPv6, it will need to build a whole new IPv6 web service, complete with new domain names, servers and bandwidth. The costs run into billions.

The OECD notes that “immediate costs are associated with deployment of IPv6, whereas many benefits are long-term and depend on a critical mass adopting it”, according to ‘The Sunday Times’. Until such time, start looking at the countdown clock for the doomsday at penrose.uk6x.com

India to be top WiMAX market in 4yrs

WHILE the Indian Government is yet to present its guidelines on the WiMax services in early August ,Singapore based research firm Springboard in its latest report ‘Laying the Foundation: WiMAX in Asia/ Pacific 2008’, predicts that India and Japan will be the largest markets for WiMAX in the region by 2012, with an estimated 35.7 per cent, and 16.9 per cent share. It is estimated that the number of WiMAX subscribers will grow from 2,30,000 in 2007 to 33.9 million by 2012. Mobile WiMAX services are estimated to garner majority of revenues and subscribers compared to fixed line services. The worldwide interoperability for microwave access (WiMAX), is atechnology that provides wireless data in avariety of ways ranging from point- to- point links to full mobile cellular type access. It is along range system that covers many kilometers to deliver apoint- to- point connection to the Internet from an internet service provider (ISP) to an end user. WiMAX is expected to take on Wi- Fi —a shorter wireless range system that covers alimited area. Typically, Wi- Fi is used by an end user to access their own network, which may or may not be connected to the Internet. In urban areas, WiMAX can be used to offer mobile and semi- mobile broadband to consumers and enterprise customers. State owned BSNL plans to spread WiMAX across Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra by the end of this year. The company is aiming for 50,000 connections in each state in 2008 and 500,000 in each state by 2010. Similarly Tata Communications The company has already launched Wi- Max facility in select tier Iand tier II cities and intends to enter another 115 enterprise and 15 retail cities by March 2009. Other telecom operators like Reliance and Bharti are providing WiMAX in metros to select enterprise consumers. Most operators are currently waiting for a definitive guideline from the Centre on spectrum allocation for WiMAX services. WiMAX is expected to gather strong momentum in the Asia Pacific region with WiMAX services revenues estimated to grow from $58 million in 2007 to $5.46 billion by 2012, according to the latest report. This translates to acompounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 148 percent for the period. The report forecasts 15.8 million WiMAX subscribers in India by 2012, 46.7 per cent of total subscribers in the Asia Pacific region, and 35.7 per cent total regional revenues from the country.

Jul 4, 2008

Business phones gaining popularity

ACCORDING to industry estimates almost 95 per cent executives in the country’s top 30 corporates use high- end business phones to send e- mails, surf the Internet, make Power- Point presentations and save over athousand contact details. Almost all manufacturers ranging from RIM (manufacturers of BlackBerry) to HTC, Apple, Nokia, Samsung, Motorola, Sony Ericsson to LG manufacture these business phones, cost upwards of Rs 20,000. Recently, Nokia had conducted astudy on the adoption of enterprise mobility in India. Respondents included over 1,500 users spread across 200 enterprises in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Chennai. The study indicated that 59 per cent users of these business phones saw enhanced productivity as the most important advantage. According to the study, the top three reasons for deploying enterprise mobility included enhanced productivity, meeting customer needs and leveraging data while on the move. Push e- mail emerged as the most widely used application, while SMS and SMS applications emerged as the most productivity enhancement applications among 71.2 per cent consumers. Almost 60 per cent of nonusers of enterprise mobility services are now keen on reaping the benefits of enterprise mobility in the next one year. In this background, Nokia on Thursday launched two business mobility handsets, E71 and E66. Both handsets sport the widely used corporate e- mail solution, Microsoft Exchange. The E71 would be available at Rs 22,949 and the E66 at Rs 23,689. “Enterprise mobility is here to stay in India with wider acceptance of push e- mail amongst corporates and consumers. With both these devices, we have responded to consumer feedback by making calendar and contacts available,” said Devinder Kishore, director, marketing, Nokia.

Jul 3, 2008

Firefox 3 creates a world record

The spread firefox team set a Guinness World Record for the most software downloads in 24 hours.
The launch of Firefox 3 saw a record-making number: 8,002,530 people downloaded the latest browser from Mozilla in the 24 hours between 18:16 UTC on June 17, 2008 to 18:16 UTC on June 18, 2008.

Here is an interesting snapshot from Mozilla on how things turned out come Download Day, July 17th:
1.We exceeded the first day download mark for Firefox 2 of 1.6 million after just five hours of availability for Firefox 3.

2.Net Applications is already reporting a 300% positive change in Firefox 3 market share worldwide just today.

3.Over 500 articles about the launch were linked to from Google News

4.The Firefox 3 launch made the front pages of BBC.co.uk, NYTimes.com, Liberation.fr, laRepubblica.it, Digg, Slashdot, Techcrunch, and Yahoo! News

5.The completely redesigned Mozilla.com launched in over 25 language versions

6.New community activity on SpreadFirefox.com has skyrocketed with dozens of new groups and hundreds of new postings

7.Over 700 community launch parties have been registered on mozillaparty.com

Get set for next- gen mobile services

THE DEPARTMENT of telecommunications (DoT) has finalised the policy for launching third generation (3G) telecom services in the country, which will provide greater bandwidth to enable mobile phone subscribers to use their handsets for voice, data and video services. Sources disclosed that the new policy would allow foreign companies, which already have experience in providing 3G services, to bid for spectrum that will be put up for open auction. DoT has not accepted the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (Trai) view on letting only existing telecom players to bid for 3G licenses. Existing Indian telecom companies are staunchly opposed to the entry of foreign players in India’s 3G space. Telecom secretary Siddartha Behura on Wednesday told Mail Today the new 3G policy was ready and would be announced “very soon”. Services under 3G would enable data to be downloaded from the Internet 30 times faster than the current services being provided on GPRS phones. Video- streaming and TV- onmobile would also become available with the higher bandwidth. However, 3G handsets are three to four times more expensive than second generation phones. DoT has been in favour of allowing foreign players in the 3G segment while Trai has been insisting it should be limited to existing players as permitting foreign players would make the services more expensive. Asection of the DoT has also expressed concern over Trai’s interference on policy issues and said the regulator's powers are limited to giving recommendations and the policy has to be framed by the government. Trai had earlier written to the finance secretary and telecom secretary S. Behura opposing the move to permit foreign players in the 3G segment saying there would be enough competition among the existing mobile operators. Communications and IT minister A. Raja had discussed the matter with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister P. Chidambaram. The finance minister had supported the DoT view on allowing foreign companies to bid for 3G spectrum. DoT had also discussed the matter with the law ministry. Behura told MAIL TODAY that the 3G policy would now be announced by the communications and IT minister and would not require cabinet clearance. Trai chairman Nripendra Misra had in his latest communication to the DoT secretary Siddharth Behura warned that allowing new players to bid for 3G spectrum will give these companies a backdoor entry into India to offer 2G services. Currently, all mobile services offered in India run on 2G or second generation cellular networks. DoT is understood to have set areserve price of about Rs 2,260 core for an all- India license for 3G spectrum in the new policy. This is exactly double the reserve price recommended by the Trai in its recommendations. Sources said under the new 3G policy, operators would have to pay one per cent of their revenue to the government after the first year of operations.

-Mail Today

Don’t turn up your nose at low technology

THE Japanese thought they were smart (you gotta hand it to them, they are really smart in many ways) when they introduced face- recognition software that stopped teenagers from buying cigarettes at vending machines. Parents rejoiced, teachers sang and the police had one burden off their shoulder. These vending machines scanned your face, identified signs of ageing such as wrinkles, skin blemishes, etc, and refused cigarettes to anyone who looked below the legal age for smoking. Good idea! The truth is that Japanese school kids are smarter. They have now figured out that if you keep aphoto of aman in his 50s , the machine analyses that face, and lets you buy the cigarettes, after all. Clearly, software has its advantages, but there is alimit to which artificial intelligence can be stretched to. Japanese authorities are considering pulling out these machines and replacing them with simpler machines that use photo- ID cards. Sometimes, lowtech works.

Opening a Vista while closing the Windows?

AROUND 18 months ago, Microsoft, the world’s largest software company, played a joke on the computing world –and called it Vista, supposedly the world’s most advanced operating system. Yesterday, the company started pulling one of its most successful products –the Windows XP operating system –off the shelves, and decided that Vista will be sold as adefault operating system for your PCs and laptops. The question is: has summer madness hit the firm to accompany the departure of its chairman Bill Gates from his operational duties? Anybody who has bought Windows Vista (or was forced to buy because it was bundled by default with the computer) will tell you that it is the most pointless operating system that Microsoft’s engineers could have ever come up with. Its entire focus seems to be promoting impressive-looking 3D graphics at the cost of speed and functionality. A computer using Vista needs far superior resources than XP requires. This means, greater cost at lower efficiency. Besides, it is extraordinarily expensive. It even led one senior Microsoft official to comment that he now had a “$2100 email machine”. Needless to add, Microsoft’s operating system sales fell 25 per cent in the last quarter, thanks to an ineffective and unpopular Vista. How? Take the British market. Vista’s full list of upgraded features such as the much-touted Aero interface could be used in only five per cent of all the PCs in the country even though Microsoft claimed it could be used with PCs that were in vogue in 2005. In fact, the Aero interface itself was loosely based on Apple Computer’s Aqua interface for Mac OS X,
Microsoft’s decision to kill Windows XP seems inexplicable
and the latter performed so well that even businesses – which had earlier decided to go with Microsoft – decided to use it. For nearly six months after Vista’s release, Microsoft behaved like an ostrich with its head in the sand by not acknowledging problems with even basic functions like opening or copying or deleting a file. When it finally woke up, it was too late – users were already switching back to XP or migrating to other platforms such as Apple or any Open Source operating system. Now, almost two years after Vista’s release, Microsoft says Vista will drive its operating system sales until Windows 7 – its next generation operating system – hits the market in 2010. At a time when it is being hit on all fronts (Google and Yahoo on the Web; Apple in the music business; Sony and Nintendo in gaming), Microsoft’s decision to kill the very product that gave it maximum revenue and goodwill, seems inexplicable. Hopefully it has a different strategy for price-sensitive markets such as India where users are just about getting used to Windows XP, which is far more stable than Vista and even though devoid of fancy features, gets your work done. Two years ago, when it decided to discontinue Windows 98, an XP predecessor, Microsoft retained the operating systems for less mature markets such as South Asia and Africa, where the low price of Windows 98 spurred the sales growth in licensed operating systems. In its wisdom, Microsoft has decided that small-shop vendors can still use XP (so your local assembler-engineer can still sell XP); it is only the big guys who will have to forego it in favour of Vista. With the sales of laptops and high-end desktops rising, it will give several users a Hobson’s choice. Therefore, large players such as Dell, HP, Compaq, Toshiba, etc, will have to make a choice – go in for Vista, increase prices and incur the wrath of customers, or pitch for XP and keep their customers happy at lower processor speeds.