Of Frappuccinos and Best Taste Dates


I was at a Starbucks with a friend recently and he made a very interesting observation. The label on the bottle of Frappuccino had a date which read:
“Best Taste By Feb 12 07”

What do they really mean? Are they saying it won’t taste as good after that date, but I should feel free to drink it? How about adding more dates like: “Not so good taste until Apr 16 07”, “Barely potable after Jun 18 07”, “Toxic after December 10 07”.
Just a thought!

Gender HCI – Is today’s software designed for the male brain?


Trying to catchup with the backlog of isses of Computer magazine I came across this article that talks about gender HCI:

Studies building upon theories and research from several domains investigate how gender differences interact with software.

It goes ahead to speak about how this gender bias in software might be responsible in creating a previously unrecognized hurdle for women interested in problem solving software like spreadsheets and CAD systems. It makes interesting reading.

SecondLife: IBM, CircuitCity and Sears


So as IBM decides to get serious about SecondLife, they start building a Sears and CircuitCity. I paid a visit to CircuitCity and was very delighted at what i saw.

To the left is Sears, to the right is CircuitCity

It looks very cozy from the inside. Clicking on any product on display opens up the browser to display more information on it.

You can watch live streaming video on the television sets that are on display. You can also sit on the couch and watch a nice 40″ flat panel on the wall. You can move the distance of the couch from the wall, to reflect the setting at your own home and the TV screen changes in size to recommend to you what you need for your home.

It’s experimental. You can not yet just pick the object and buy it from within SecondLife. They are still collecting feedback.

I see it catching on soon. We won’t make an overnight shift to the Matrix, but we seem to be getting somewhere there. A more hybrid one for now.

Democracy TV


Democracy TV
Democracy TV is a pretty good video player. Not only can it play many formats, it also has RSS feed subscriptions, podcasts and it also does video blogs. It is also integrated with the video sites like YouTube etc. It also has a built in bit-torrent client. It’s underlying goal is to free up the consumption of media and also promote free creation of media. It is a project of the Participatory Culture Foundation.

Watchout! It takes quite some memory. So instead of being MPlayer fast, it’s more like Windows Media Player slow – if you get the drift.

[Screenshots and Features]

Republic Day of India


India got it’s freedom on 15th August, 1947. It is referred to as the Independance Day.
The constitution of India was formed on 26th January, 1950. It is referred to as the Republic Day.
Both days are national holidays in India.

26th January 1950 is one of the most important days in Indian history as it was on this day the constitution of India came into force and India became a truly sovereign state. In this day India became a totally republican unit. The country finally realized the dream of Mahatma Gandhi and the numerous freedom fighters who, fought for and sacrificed their lives for the Independence of their country. So, the 26th of January was decreed a national holiday and has been recognized and celebrated as the Republic Day of India, ever since.

[via Tajonline]

Today I feel a lot can be learned from this 57 year old Democracy constituting of 1 billion people. Specifically, the electronic voting system in India is a great showcase of simple genius.

To mark the ocassion, the Indian Students Association at Umich held a flag hoisting ceremony. Only 20-30 Indians were brave enough to show up in frigid weather. They missed the laddoos 🙂

Amdocs 7


Amdocs’ latest offering is Amdocs 7. When I read about this, I got an instant flashback of the time I spent working in Amdocs. Always on it’s heels, always thinking ahead, prepared well in advance. It was a very good experience. I am glad I am still very much in touch with many of my former colleagues.

Demystification: GPS and GPRS


[This post talks about the difference between GPS and GPRS. If you already know the difference you may skip it.]

As an engineer, I would like to apologize to everyone for confusing acronyms being shoved down normal people’s throats. GPS and GPRS is one such pair of acronyms in the mobile domain which normal people tend to use interchangably. But these terms are totally different and have nothing in common and I will try and make it clear and easily distinguishable.

Global Positioning System (GPS):
GPS is used for establishing your location in the world.

General Packet Radio Service (GPRS):
GPRS is a service offered by your cell company which allows transmission of data to/from your phone.

If you have Internet on your phone – it’s probably coming through GPRS (or EGPRS, EVDO or all the new fancy high speed methods). If your phone has a special system by which it can accurately find out it’s location in the world then it is GPS.

GPS is a free service. GPRS costs money. GPRS connects your phone to the Internet. When you check your mail, browse the web etc. through your phone, then you are using GPRS.

Tip to Remember: GPS does only one thing and it is a shorter acronym. GPRS lets you do many things and it is the longer acronym.

Confusing but perfectly correct usage:
I get my location coordinates through GPS. I get information about this position through GPRS.
So, my GPS tells my phone that I am in Ann Arbor. My phone uses a GPRS connection to get a list of restaurants in Ann Arbor from the Internet.

The Ant and the Grasshopper


I may not necessarily agree with this, but it’s an interesting parable of sorts.

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long building hishouse and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks theant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed. The grasshopper has no food or shelter so hedies out in the cold.

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building hishouse and laying up supplies for the winter. The grasshopper thinks theant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference anddemands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fedwhile others are cold and starving.NDTV, BBC, CNN show up to providepictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.The World is stunned by the sharp contrast. How can this be that this poorgrasshopper is allowed to suffer so?Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the ant’s house. Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other grasshoppers demanding thatgrasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter.Amnesty International and Koffi Annan criticize the Indian Government fornot upholding the fundamental rights of the grasshopper. The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to thegrasshopper (many promising Heaven and Everlasting Peace for promptsupport as against the wrath of God for non-compliance) .Opposition MP’s stage a walkout.Left parties call for “Bharat Bandh” inWest Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry.CPM in Keralaimmediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat soas to bring about equality of poverty among ants and grasshoppers. Lalu Prasad allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian RailwayTrains, aptly named as the ‘Grasshopper Rath’.Finally, the Judicial Committee drafts the Prevention of Terrorism AgainstGrasshoppers Act [POTAGA]”, with effect from the beginning of the winter. Arjun Singh makes Special Reservation for Grass Hopper in educationalInsititutions & in Govt Services.The ant is fined for failing to comply with POTAGA and, having nothingleft to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the Government and handed over to the grasshopper in a ceremony covered byNDTV.Arundhati Roy calls it “a triumph of justice”. Lalu calls it ‘SocialisticJustice’. CPM calls it the ‘revolutionary resurgence of the downtrodden’ Koffi Annan invites the grasshopper to address the UN General Assembly.MANY YEARS LATER…The ant has since migrated to the US and set up a multi billion dollarcompany in silicon valley.100s of grasshoppers still die of starvationdespite reservation somewhere in India.

[via email]

Hell in your backyard


Hell, MI
There’s a nice little town here in Livingston County and it is called “Hell”. Why is it called Hell?

[From Hell’s official Website]

The History of Hell Michigan

Hell was first settled in 1838 by George Reeves and his family. George had a wife and 7 daughters – no reason to call it Hell yet… George built a mill and a general store on the banks of a river that is now known as Hell Creek…

The mill would grind the local farmers grain into flour; George also ran a whiskey still, so a lot of times the first 7-10 bushels of grain became moonshine.

In turn, horses would come home without riders, wagons without drivers….someone would say to the wife, where is your husband?

She’d shrug her shoulders, throw up her arms and exclaim, Ahh, he’s gone to Hell!”

In 1841 when the State of Michigan came by, and asked George what he wanted to name his town, he replied, “Call it Hell for all I care, everyone else does.” So the official date of becoming Hell was October 13, 1841…

Hell, MI
So, for the record, I have been through Hell. Next you tell me life’s tough and giving you a hard time, you better think twice – you have not yet seen what Hell is all about!