Archive for October, 2008

2008 Nobel prizes announced

October 16, 2008

Nobel prizes were announced in October 2008 (the last one on October 13th). The winners are

Physiology or Medicine

shared by German researcher Harald zur Hausen and two French researchers Françoise  Barré-Sinoussi and Luc Montagnier

Physics –

shared by American Professor Yoichiro Nambu (University of Chicago)and Japanese researchers Makoto Kobayashi and Toshihide Maskawa (Kyoto University)

Chemistry

American professors Osamu Shimomura (Boston University), Martin Chalfie (Columbia University) and Roger Y. Tsien (UC San Diego)

Economics

American Professor Paul Krugman (Princeton University)

Literature –

French author Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio

Peace

Former President of Finalnd Martti Ahtisaari

America and Europe continue to dominate, though Asian presence is slowly being felt; one hopes one day it will reach the Indian shores too

SaaS waiting to happen (IET Int’l SaaS Conference in Bangalore Oct 14-15, 20008

October 16, 2008

SaaS has been around for long though in different forms.

SABRE airline reservation system that I used in my first international flight (Madras London Chicago) as early as early 70’s
SWIFT inter-bank electronic payment systems

actually delivered software solution as a dedicated service to select “agents”.

HotMail (the first web-based mail) and several web-based mail service including GMail, Yahoo Mail, Rediff or FastMail were the next instances of software delivered as service
SalesForce.com was the “iconic” SaaS offering in the past 10 years
iTunes & iPhone too made SaaS “notion” familiar to the end users
not all such “software delivery” was “architected” as SaaS applications.

SoA (Service oriented architecture) has been maturing over the years and many successful applications are getting re-architected for SaaS.

There is a “philosophy” of SaaS, there is a “business model of SaaS” (pay as you use) and the “technology” of SaaS; what this conference does is to take a balanced view of all the three aspects.

Iconic Indian companies
TCS, Ramco, Persistent, ABS, Mastek, Mindtree, Sarena and IBS

as well as MNC’s
SAP, Microsoft and Jamcracker including SalesForce.com

are presenting their work in this conference; some of them have stalls too. They represent software vendors, ISV’s (Independent Software Vendors), System Integrators (SI) and technology vendors. Of course the focus goes beyond technology to security issues as well.

With Dr FC Kohli, Former Chairman of India’s largest & oldest software services company TCS and the Mr PRV Raja, Founder & CEO of Ramco Systems – India’s best known software product company that is now re-engineering their product into SaaS offering – giving Keynote addresses, the Conference brings some of the best minds together. We should than IET team that has come all the way from London to organize this Conference in Bangalore.

(Introductory remarks as the Event General Chair for the IET International Conference on SaaS held at Grand Ashok Hotel, Bangalore during Oct 14-15, 2008)

Infosys has 100,000+ employees today!

October 11, 2008

Along with quarterly results, Infosys also cut a huge cake marking the crossing of 100,000 employees strength on October 10, 2008!

It is a proud moment for Infosys; proud day for Indians at large

It is indeed creditable that six people with imagination, commitment and courage (and with just Rs 20,000 cash) could create an organization in India that could scale to 100,000 employees in just 27 years!

One hopes that Infosys will grow 200,000 srong in the next 5-10 years

West Bengal’s loss is Gujarat’s win – Nano moves to Gujarat; a proud day for India

October 8, 2008

Chief Minister Narendra Modi who has been battered by the media for all these years has done proud to Gujratis by swiftly swinging into action. Ratan Tata formally announced his decision to  move Nano to Gujarat; after the unfortunate incident of self-serving politicians forcing Tata’s dream car (Nano) project to move out of West Bengal.

According to Rata Tata Gujarat government moved real fast to have things ready for Tats to locate their factory into the outskirts of Ahmedabad.

It is re-assuring that there are still some Statesmen left in the country. There are Chief Ministers who care for their State! Let their tribe multiply. Finally, it is a proud day for India (following a sad Friday last week)

One more learning opportunity – Microsoft Tech Vista @ Chennai on Oct 1, 2008

October 3, 2008

Microsoft Research India organized its third edition of Tech Vista –

  • day full of outstanding talks from world’s leading computer scientists
  • upcoming & promising researchers in India (mostly PhD students) showing off their work thru “poster presentations” and 
  • a very large number of students & faculty from dozens of Institutions (both Tier I and Tier II/III) 

all assembled in Trade Center, Chennai.

The day-long festival had John Hopcroft of Cornell (NP-completeness fame), Shafi Goldwasser of MIT / Weizmann, Shree Nayar of Columbia, Rich Rashid & Rich Szeliski of Microsoft Research and our own Vijay Chandru of Strand Genomics giving in-depth talks on cutting edge technologies.

In all, it was a great event to quench one’s intellectual thirst.

Though I missed this event, select IIIT-B students had benefited fully; I could get some “gyan” today (Oct 3) during the day-long presentation to TAB (Technical Advisory Board) of which I am a Member. It was a great feeling to see the Bangalore Center managing to get so much intellectual output, thanks to Anandan & Kentaro who have built an outstanding team of 27 PhD qualified researchers in just 4 years!

  • Technology for Emerging Markets
  • Mobility
  • Algorithms
  • Rigorous software engineering
  • Cryptography and
  • Multi-lingual systems

are the key areas in whivh the researchers presented some exciting work.

All in all, MSR India is genuinely contributing to the research ecosystems in India

A sad day for India – Nano project moves out of Singur in West Bengal

October 3, 2008

With Tatas saying “tata” (good bye) to Singur, it is not just West Bengal that lost; all right thinking Indians lost to self-serving politicians for whom rhetoric and posturing are important, than service  the people.

It is a sad day because of good political leaders (there are still some left) decided to keep silent; the only hope of West Bengal (Chief Minister & Governor) were ignored. Law of the land was not allowed to have its course. The media did not add to their glory as well (by portraying the right “vibes” they could have got the right-thinking people to fight an unjust movement led by self-serving leaders)

Communists, by killing systematically any forum for dissent (by use of force) had silenced the “true voice” over the four decades.

One only hopes that some one will speak for the real farmers (several thousands of them) who would have benefited through education, healthcare, jobs and prosperity that the Nano project would have provided and what communists have systematically denied to the rural farmers in West Bengal for decades.

Bengal could have re-gained its lost glory by hosting Nano – a project, not just a pride for India, but a path-breaking move for the not-so-rich people of the world. Alas a golden opportunity is lost!

Nokia launches 5800 xPress Music phone “Tube”

October 2, 2008

At 5 PM London time on October 2, 2008 (incidentally, birthday of Mahatma Gandhi) Nokia formally launched the “much awaited” handset “Tube” that media has been writing as “iPhone Killer”.

By taking a very different approach, Nokia managed to play the “leadership game” of setting the bench mark than do a “catch up” act.

First, Nokia  “Tube” is a music phone; it is “also” a touch phone; it does NOT attempt a copycat iPhone;

Second, by pricing at neary half the iPhone and Google G1 (Nokia “Tube” will cost about $ 300 with no service provoder lock-in; iPhone costs $ 199 with AT&T lock-in; Google phone costs $ 179 but adding the cost of 8 GB flash makes it far higher in price), Nokia “Tube” will have a much larger user base

Third Nokia “tube” offers touch, T9 and hand-writing recognition (for 60 languages); while it lacks “multi-touch” Apple iPhone appeal, it has taken “touch” to a different level

With excelent video support (recording and play back), 3.2 meg camera with flash, 3.2″ screen with 360X640 resolution, 16 million colors, surround sound, much larger volume bulit-in speakers and standard audio jack, in terms of multimedia Nokia “Tube” is far better than iPhone or Google Phone or even other models from LG & HTC 

Fifth, Nokia “Tube” supports 4 GSM frequencies and 2 HSDPA, making a global phone

By suporting Adobe “flash”, Nokia “tube” will provide better browsing for any site (not those that are optimized for non-flash support as many iPhone supporting sites have done)

By supporting WMA, Nokia  “Tube” has wider reach of media in addition to Nokia’s own store; by signing up with 4 labels (Sony, EMI, Universal and Warner) the music base is much larger too

Finaly, it has “copy / paste” too!

By announcing “Comes With Music” service, Nokia has given a new twist to the competition.

After all what else one can expect from a leader who sells music phones alone at million pieces a month and 300 million phones a year, compared to HTC talking of 4 million G1 phone sales by end 2009 and Apple setting 10 million goal for year end

Mobile handsets scene continues to be exciting

 

In summary Apple iPhone has fantastic features and attempts to attract anyone with those compelling features

Google G1 appeals with “open” philosophy (though the phone does not synch with anything beyond GMail, not even with desktop machines Mac or PC) and appeals to Geeks

Nokia clearly targets youth around the world (there was specific mention of India, something music to my ears) and delivers something that youngsters would love – a clear winning strategy