Category Archives: Tech World

Happy Birthday Internet!

Today is the 39th Birthday of the Internet.

April 7, 1969: Birth of that thing we call the Internet

 1969: The publication of the first “request for comments,” or RFC, documents paves the way for the birth of the internet.

April 7 is often cited as a symbolic birth date of the net because the RFC memoranda contain research, proposals and methodologies applicable to internet technology were first published on this day. RFC documents provide a way for engineers and others to kick around new ideas in a public forum; sometimes, these ideas are adopted as new standards by the Internet Engineering Task Force.

One interesting aspect of the RFC is that each document is issued a unique serial number. An individual paper cannot be overwritten; rather, updates or corrections are submitted on a separate RFC. The result is an ongoing historical record of the evolution of internet standards.

When it comes to the birth of the net, Jan. 1, 1983, also has its supporters. On that date, the National Science Foundation’s university network backbone, a precursor to the World Wide Web, became operational.

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Google’s Monopoly Of the Internet

In a series of articles on ZDNet Donna Bogatin analyses whether Google has come to monopolise the Internet.

Is Google the Internet?

The ramifications of Google’s 50%+ search market share permeate the Web’s entire ecosystem.

 

In “Scoring Google on quality” I discuss the significant influence Google has on the proprietary content of literally millions of third-party Websites.

 

Every new Website considers the leading search engine in its development plans. Websites 1) Optimize page content to be “found” organically by Google, 2) Buy Google AdWords and develop landing pages to Google’s specifications and/or 3) Code to protect proprietary content from Google indexing and caching.

 

Google(Will be) a monopoly

The ramifications of Google’s 50%+ search market share permeate the Web’s entire ecosystem, I underscored to mark the Google New Year.Google’s permeation may become even denser, if its rumored acquisition of banner ad serving firm DoubleClick comes to pass.

Not only do the overwhelming majority of Websites depend upon Google for their traffic—via “free” SEO and paid AdWords—Google drives advertising revenues for a seeming majority of Websites via its AdSense contextual ad serving network.

An apt post April Fools’ Day irony is that even DoubleClick former CEO Kevin Ryan relies on text ads served by Google AdSense as his advertising supported Web 2.0 ShopWiki business model, not banner ads served by DoubleClick’s Dart.

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If You are Considering Moving to Windows Vista

Make sure to know what you might be getting into.

In a CRN article titled 25 shortcomings of Vista Frank J Olhorst lists 25 things to watch out for while moving to Vista.

At this point, solution providers have heard plenty from Microsoft and others about all the benefits that the Windows Vista Operating system will bring businesses and other users.

But what are some things to watch out for with the new OS? The CRN Test Center compiled a list of 25 items that VARs should bear in mind when using and deploying Vista.

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Scobleshow with Automattic’s CEO

This blog runs on WordPress.com and it never stops to amaze with its stability, practically no down time and cool features like tags, categories, akismet spam blocker, wonderful themes and extensions etc… and the coolest of them all. It is absolutely free.

Little wonder that the open source WordPress has become the most sought after blogging software in the world. Everyone from the NYT, Gigaom, Livescience etc… uses it.

This interview of Toni schneider, CEO of Automattic, the owner of the WordPress platform with Robert Scoble, the No 1 WordPress.com blogger is worth listening to where he talks in depth about the WordPress platform and their future plans.

WordPressing with Automattic’s CEO, Toni Schneider

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Studying Science and Math Makes Your Dreams Come True

The renowned NASA is facing a big crunch. Its Scientific and Engineering community are ageing fast and are on the verge of retirement. But there are no new young engineers to replace them.

“The people that came into the field in the Apollo era and the early shuttle era are nearing retirement,” Dickman said. “The people that are going to make Mars happen, however, are the kids in school today.”

This is supposedly a worldwide problem. According to the “Golden oldies” the students of today are more interested in a career in the booming IT/Electronic gadgets industry with their fancy salaries and stock options rather than get their hands dirty and greased with traditional engineering fields like Mechanical, Electrical, Civil or Aeronautical Engineering. This sentiment is reflected by the statement of Mr Peter S Worden, the director of NASA Ames Research Center when he says

“The average age of my civil servants is 49 and we only have nine people under the age of 30,Then I talked to Google and they only have nine people over the age of 30.”

But being the bureaucrats that they are. Their approach to “popularising” the study of math and Science among today’s kids who they realise are the ones who will make Mars and beyond happen is quite disappointing.

In conjunction with the Space 2006 conference, the AIAA has a program called Education Alley to show young kids the magic of space and the necessity of learning math and science to get there. In a large hall adjacent to the main conference expo area, hundreds of kids lined up to talk with corporate sponsors and educators — and a speaking robot that wandered the floor.

With this approach they are more likely to scare off the kids rather than get them excited.

Instead they should emphasise success stories like Kalpana Chawla and Anousheh Ansari. Both were women who came from societies that did not put much emphasis about education of Women. But both made it by sheer dint of effort and their passion for the sciences. Their biography reads like the “American dream” and would inspire any kid to follow in their footsteps.

But there is more to it than just the politically correct news plug by NASA. Two commentors for that article have called it nothing but “empty talk”. They call the NASA HR department as a “black box” where applications go in and nothing comes out at the other end. They point out the fact that most of the younger engineers are forced to work as “contractors” or “temporary hires” for long periods and this job uncertainty coupled with lower salaries act as a “effective deterrent” against any “kid” finding his way to a career in NASA.

The situation is similar in India too. The points made by those two commentors brought back memories when i did my Final year engineering project in two such research institutions one a Aeronautical and another a Electronics facility in Bangalore and there too it was quite clear that the workforce was greying and there was not enough young recruits. Most youngsters who joined (as contractors/regulars) and were no less enthusiastic early on would get frustrated and leave in less than a couple of years to work for IT MNC’s where the pay and working conditions were much better.And ofcourse the “Golden oldies” here too would whine about the “kids” in the same way as NASA is doing.

The need of the hour therefore for NASA and other government owned research institutions across the world is to stop whining and fix their own houses. If they want youngsters to find it attractive to take up a career in science then they should allow space for some real passion rather than expect the youngsters to pay obeisance to their bloated egos.

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Blogspot vs WordPress

I have been blogging on Blogspot for the past few months and I decided to try out the newly launched WordPress.com service. This is what I found in comparison.

Editor: Blogspot wins hands down. It has got a very good WYSIWYG editor. It is very easy to insert Html tags, links and photos and get your post online in a jiffy.

WordPress editor sucks big time. It is quite cumbersome to type, plus it is very difficult to insert Html tags into the text area. The Insert link icon is disabled for some reason. One has to click the Html icon on the tools list which pops up a gooey with all that messy tags and one has to manually correct it all oneself.

If you want to Insert photos then WordPress editor makes you cry. You have to upload the photo, then right click on the photo and change “Use Thumbnail” option to “Use Original”, then click on send to editor, then u have to use the photo icon on the tools list and manually enter the dimensions of the photo after ofcourse finding it out yourself on some Photo editor like Paint or such.

But one plus point on WordPress is that it allows one to break a long post into two parts so that the visitor can click on the More link if he wants to read the whole post. Unlike Blogspot where the entire post appears on one page and if it is a really looooonnnnnnngggggggg post all your earlier masterful pieces of literature will get buried down and cause you much heartburn. The point is your frontpage looks neat and professional on WordPress.

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RSS Newsfeeds for Dummies

To start with this RSS has got nothing to do with that RSS :). This RSS is called the Rich Site Summary or the Really Simple Syndication or RDF Site Summary and the latest version is RSS 2.0.

RSS is primarily useful to collect one’s favourite newsfeeds from different websites and present it at one point to the readers on their desktop rather than requiring him or her to log onto every site. So basically it is there to make life easy for everybody.

To access one’s favourite content through the RSS one needs a RSS reader. There are a lot of readers available on the Internet but my own favourite readers are Bloglines and FeedDemon.

Bloglines is a very simple utility. It is netbased and one can access it from any browser. There is no need to download any software. Just sign up for an account and you are on. One can bookmark all their favourite sites under My Feeds which is regularly updated. The corresponding content is displayed on the Right hand side. The user interface is very intuitive and one can learn very quickly without much problem.Plus once someone is logged in even if they close the browser in the middle of the session they are not logged out. This is about the same flexibility that one gets from any dedicated desktop reader software which gives Bloglines some very good brownie points.

The only sore point with Bloglines is the Automatic detection of an RSS feed from any site that one visits. One has to store something called the “Easy Subscribe Bookmarklet” in the favourites folder of their browser and click on it when they want to detect the RSS feed for the site they are viewing. It works at most times but it is quite painful in case of sites like Rediff which have multiple feeds and one has to manually copy and paste the feed address in Add menu under My Feeds. Anything that is non-intuitive to a dummy user is bound to send him off scurrying to the competitor. Hope Bloglines fix this issue as soon as possible.

FeedDemon is another excellent software that is available for free download as a evaluation version. It irritates ppl all the time when one either opens or exits FeedDemon with a Buy prompt screen.

Otherwise it is quite easy to configure and very intuitive to use. It has a channels folder in the Left hand side, A Headlines list of the site in the center window and the article in full on the extreme right hand side. It is able to tag the RSS feeds of sites automatically it visits or you can just click the RSS/XML icons on the sites and it gets tagged easily.

Now what if you have a Blog and you want to include RSS functionality. If your blog is hosted on either Blogger or WordPress or any other such service provider there is a default RSS feed available and you only have to include a RSS icon on your site and some html code with a href so that any visitor can easily tag your site by clicking on the icon.

Alternately one can use Feedburner to generate a feedbunner url. The Feedburner site then gives you a small piece of html code that you have to include at a appropriate place on your site by modifying the template. The icon then appears on your blog along with the hyperlink. The advantage here is any visitor when he clicks on the icon is taken to a page where he can select to tag your site with a host of Readers. Also the Feedburner provides several useful utilities and code to spruce up your blog offering.

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