Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cartoon contest and counter-contest Online now

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - An Iranian newspaper's contest for cartoons about the Holocaust, launched Monday in response to a series of caricatures about the Prophet Mohammed, has already drawn at least two entries - one from Brazil and one from Australia, the paper said. Hamshahri, one of Iran's top five newspapers, said its contest was a test of the Western world's readiness to print cartoons about the Nazi slaughter of 6 million Jews in World War II. It called for cartoons under the title: ``What is the Limit of Western Freedom of Expression?''
Israel Launches SEO Contest Against Iran Holocaust Cartoons
In response to Iran's best-selling newspaper announcing a competition to find the best cartoons about the Holocaust, the Israel News Agency launched an SEO - Internet search engine optimization marketing contest to prevent Iran news Websites from reaching top positions in Google. "When I heard that a newspaper in Iran was now holding a cartoon contest on the Holocaust, I knew that SEO would be the most potent tool in combating it," said Joel Leyden, publisher of the Israel News Agency. "That 12 winners in Iran would have their Holocaust cartoons published and would receive two gold coins (worth about $140 each) as a prize, I donned my SEO Israel Defense Forces uniform, cocked and loaded my keyboard. There is no way that Iran will spit on the graves of over 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust."


Anti-cartoon protests go online

The BBC reports that nearly 1,000 Danish websites and 1,600 additional "western" websites have been defaced by Islamic hackers protesting about the controversial cartoons. Roberto Preatoni, founder and administrator of Zone-H (a hack attack monitoring group) said, "We have never seen so many defacements that are politically targeted in such a short time".

Monday, February 13, 2006

An award for telecom

Dawn's Editorial in today's edition: "WITH all the conspiracy theorists predicting gloom and doom for the country, the news that Pakistan has received an international award for progress and development made in its telecommunication sector proves that all is not that bad after all. It has been awarded the Government Leadership Award 2006 beating heavyweight India, a serious contender for the award. This is no small achievement in a highly competitive field. Recognized for its “remarkable work in the field” by the competitive board of Global System of Mobile Association, Pakistan was lauded for creating a booming mobile communication sector by reducing tariffs and expanding the mobile subscribers’ base to 20 million in just three years. Pakistan hopes to increase this base to 50 million in the next three to four years. This can be achieved provided that the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority’s planned investment of Rs 20 billion in the telecom sector during 2004-5 materializes and it receives two billion dollars over the next few years. There are many indicators to prove that the time is ripe for investment in this sector. In the last year or so, two major international mobile phone operators opened shop here and have performed well. Then there are wireless loop operators entering the market with various high-tech options once unimaginable.The mobile phone is no longer a rich man’s luxury as it was at one time but a necessity for everyone. Those in the service sector — like plumbers and electricians — are now always available on the phone and it has opened new vistas for lower-income entrepreneurs, who, through various micro-finance schemes, can use their mobile phones to attract business. This conducive environment will allow more players into the market and give consumers a wider choice of networks to choose from. Once the option of mobile number portability comes into play — allowing consumers to switch networks without changing their existing mobile numbers — service providers will have no option but to ensure their network’s reliability and coverage as on that front many companies have been deficient. For this the PTA will have to play a more effective role as a regulatory body, checking telecom companies’ poor services and ensuring that consumers’ complaints are taken seriously."

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Google - The Art of Playing it Right!

When Google was not as all-encompassing as it is today a few months (read years in Internet time), it played linux.google.com and scholar.google.com to win the hearts of niche communities (college researchers and linux geeks). Now, with features, products and services enough to cause M$ execs sleepless nights here and there, Google still plays it right.

From a purely outsider's perspective, the true strength of Google is its ability to stay focused in its goals. Every move that Google makes seems so obvious (and natural!), one wonders why it arrived late. Google's Death will be delayed till it exhaust its ability to process information - or others (MS,Yahoo, Amazon, Ebay) learns to do the same (limitlessly process information).

Official Google Blog: Big mail on campus
We're testing a new service with the school by hosting Gmail accounts with SJCC domain addresses (like student@jaguars.sjcc.edu), plus admin tools for efficient account management. Massive storage and features that tame the most unruly inboxes, like powerful mail search, conversation view for messages, and a fast interface, make Gmail very handy for students. Together, we're pleased to provide this channel for better communications and a stronger community for all 10,000 SJCC students.

Update: Gmail is now available for custom domains! Though still in beta (and request-approval based), we can safely expect the feature to be available as permanent for all and sundry soon.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Windows Live Custom Domains

Windows Live Custom Domains is a service to sign up your own domain for Windows Live services (email, hosting etc). This means that instead of using alias@hotmail.com you can get the same service for alias@yourdomain.com and log in to Windows Live Mail (formerly Hotmail) to check your mail. If you have your own domain and want reliable email hosting, you can sign up now.

Currently the service is limited to email only but I have been testing out Domain Hosting as well (internal only for the time being) and it's better than any $30 web host out there (full backups, ample bandwidth and fast load times). I am not sure about the cost metrics around domain hosting but it could be a free, ad sponsored service.

Have a look at http://ideas.live.com/ for other beta products and keep a watchful eye around the Windows Live initiative--it looks promising.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

IE 7 (beta 2) - Not Bad!

Yes, you can hear that coming from a Firefox fanatic - IE 7 (beta 2) - Not bad. I specially like the following feature and cannot wait until matching extensions are produced by the FF community to keep the tilt in favor of FF:
  1. View all Tabs button
  2. A 'close' button at every tab - makes it so easy to close the tab. Current FF implementation asks me to move my mouse between the red cross button and the tab I need to close so often.
  3. The ability to see the page in 100% or bigger or smaller as the need be
  4. The way the top area of the browser has been restricted to a few lines really makes a lot of viewable space for the website that is being visited.
  5. The ability to open a new tab by clicking a 'peaking' new tab right after the last tab! neat man!
  6. The ability to read the raw RSS and XML feeds. This will surely let the average RSS clue-less joe make use of the feature.
  7. The way the menus that have been shrinked to a side of the browser - really saves lots of wasted space.
Let's see when does this get out of beta (quite a permanent feature of Web 2.0 stuff).

Thursday, February 02, 2006

365 Tomorrows

Google finally jumped the shark last week, in a long anticipated move to diversify their portfolio, which had formerly consisted of too much wide-eyed idealism. The blogosphere jumped up and down and all around but some prompt tweaking of the page rank algorithim ensured that there was much ado about nothing.

While this move ensures that a whole future timeline will go straight to big brother without passing Venus, there are 365 other Tomorrows:

365 tomorrows is a collaborative project designed to present readers with one new piece of short speculative fiction each day for one year. Utilizing the broad palate of science fiction, our vision of the future creates a diverse pool of stories with something for everyone to enjoy.

IE7 Beta 2 Preview is Available!

Enough said.

You can download it here. Let us know what you think!

Google on a Roll!

There's been tons (literally!) of news about Google in the last ten days or so. First it was Google's refusal to give the US Department of Justice access to their user search records. Then it was Google doing censorship in China. Then it was Google missing their earnings target in their quarterly report, causing their stock to drop 10%.

Now, we know that Google really does have their own operating system -- a spinoff from Ubuntu Linux. The Register reported it in this article, with Google saying that it is for internal use only. Ars Technica also carried a similar story.

Then, we hear from eWeek in this article that Google might also be planning to go commercial on VOIP. Similar to what Skype is doing today with SkypeOut. Most likely they're doing this to generate another solid revenue stream -- since advertising is pretty much their only revenue model today.

Google's hat sure has more rabbits in it than we expect...

Why Gates hates Negroponte's $100 Laptop

Kevin Maney, a columnist for USA Today met with Bill Gates and asked him about Nicholas Negroponte's $100 Laptop for the Third World -- which has recently been endorsed by the United Nations at the World Economic Forum.

In his column, Maney writes that Gates suggested to him that cell phones would be better in such a scenario. Why? Maney thinks aloud...

On the face of it, Gates seems to be taking his position only because that darn $100 laptop doesn't run on Microsoft's Windows operating system. Negroponte chose a free Linux-based operating system — and then gored Microsoft by saying he picked it not because it's free, but because it's better.

Worse for Microsoft, if tens of millions of Negroponte's Microsoft-free laptops spread through the Third World, that kind of product base would lure developers to create more software for the machines. Major manufacturers such as Sony or Dell might decide to make better, competing supercheap non-Windows laptops.

Could Maney be right? Would one of the TIME Persons of the Year (for his philanthropy) be this selfish?

GPS Navigation to launch in India

The Hindustan Times reports in this article that GPS Navigation is to be launched in cars in India. Starting from Rs. 35,000 going up to Rs. 150,000 -- the "Navigator" will allow you to search for the closest petrol pump, food, and shopping while also give you the ability to get directions.

Can we first start by naming our roads and then putting up street name sign boards so we might also be able to implement GPS Navigation some day...?