Dec 31, 2008
Dec 22, 2008
Library of the Human Imagination
Here's a fascinating video talk by the owner/curator, Jay Walker:
Nov 28, 2008
Super Obama World
To play the game go to Super Obama World
Nov 10, 2008
Australia replaced its 10-year old prime minister, John Howard, with a youthful version.
US elected its first "African-American" American president, creating history after a long line of "European-American" presidents. The chronically demoralized black community will take some time to absorb the shock of happiness and inspiration. US has a blank canvas to redraw its global image.
4 days after US, there were elections here in NZ. And true enough the current government with a 3-term, 9-year serving prime minister, Labour's Helen Clark lost. The new prime minister is National's John Key. National includes NZ's first Sikh member of parliament, Kanwaljit Bakshi.
If has been interesting that in these elections the contestants seemed to be arguing on the same side of popular issues. With more similarities than differences it has been called "a fight for the centre". Perhaps a by-product of the demise of socialism-communism.
The pre-election cartoon (below) of the current PM and the new PM sums up the campaigns
Sep 10, 2008
India - New Zealand confluence
Like so many others around the world, New Zealand is beginning to use India's capabilities in information technology, training and business processes support. Its beneficial that the trade is going both ways. While ambitious but understaffed projects in New Zealand can use Indian scalability, the many innovative products developed in New Zealand, such as Xero, Silverstripe and Greenstone can find customers in India.
There has been a flurry of news recently:
IT courses a passage to India
By TOM PULLAR-STRECKER - The Dominion Post | Monday, 27 August 2007
India has become synonymous with international technology outsourcing. Now Delhi-based training company Koenig Solutions is encouraging Kiwis to go to India to get IT qualifications that are certified by companies such as Microsoft and Cisco.
Koenig offers "boot camp" courses with the option of one-on-one training at a price it claims is half that charged by New Zealand providers.
It pays to be tough to do business in India
The Press | Monday, 25 August 2008
That New Zealand's trade commissioner to India, Paul Vaughan, has survived three years without a single case of "Delhi belly" is either a marvel of human health or extreme good luck.
Either way, when it comes to doing business in India Vaughan says it helps to be tough.
But more than that, he says it pays to be organised.
With a population of more than a billion and an economy that is growing second only to China's for speed and intensity, India can be an overwhelming place to do business.
ANZ National jobs to go to India
Wednesday, 16 July 2008
ANZ National bank has told workers doing back office jobs in Wellington and Auckland that the work done by 238 of them will be done in India in the future.
The meetings yesterday with workers at the bank's lending services centre in Auckland and customer transaction service centre in Wellington were the start of a two-week consultation period over the outsourcing of the work to India.
Jade does deal with Indian partner
Monday, 23 June 2008
Privately owned Jade Software Corp is hailing a deal to sell a software product in India as the most significant it has entered into in the last five years.
The Christchurch-based company said Indian partner CMC will sell Jade's student management system (SMS) throughout India.
The company did not put any numbers on expected revenue or profit from the sales but said up to 100 centres in India will have the software by the end of the year.
India key to $20m Telecom revamp
By TOM PULLAR-STRECKER - The Dominion Post | Monday, 23 June 2008
Telecom has awarded Indian company Tech Mahindra a contract worth $20 million to $30m to help reshape its retail business, providing customers with more self-service options and cutting costs.
The general manager of retail transformation, Pawel Grochowicz, says that at its peak up to 300 Tech Mahindra and Telecom staff will be engaged on the multi-year project to create the "Next Generation Telecom".
"It is going to be a mix of onshore and offshore resources. We will look to bring some Tech Mahindra staff onshore, as well as having some offshore. It is very difficult to say what the exact number of Tech Mahindra people will be."
Tourism 'failing to milk Indian cash cow'
By NICK CHURCHOUSE - The Dominion Post | Friday, 30 May 2008
Cash-rich Indian travellers are being stopped from taking their dream trip to New Zealand by expensive and inaccessible airlines.
The market for Indians travelling to New Zealand has risen from 19th to 12th since 2003, and, while still small, is a cash cow that is being overlooked by tourism operators, an Indian travel buyer says.
Sep 7, 2008
Within days, the tide reversed. Students began e-mailing Zuckerberg to say that via News Feed they’d learned things they would never have otherwise discovered through random surfing around Facebook. The bits of trivia that News Feed delivered gave them more things to talk about — Why do you hate Kiefer Sutherland? — when they met friends face to face in class or at a party. Trends spread more quickly. [...]
Social scientists have a name for this sort of incessant online contact. They call it “ambient awareness.” It is, they say, very much like being physically near someone and picking up on his mood through the little things he does — body language, sighs, stray comments — out of the corner of your eye. Facebook is no longer alone in offering this sort of interaction online. [...]
But as the days went by, something changed. Haley discovered that he was beginning to sense the rhythms of his friends’ lives in a way he never had before. When one friend got sick with a virulent fever, he could tell by her Twitter updates when she was getting worse and the instant she finally turned the corner. He could see when friends were heading into hellish days at work or when they’d scored a big success. Even the daily catalog of sandwiches became oddly mesmerizing, a sort of metronomic click that he grew accustomed to seeing pop up in the middle of each day. [...]
This is the paradox of ambient awareness. Each little update — each individual bit of social information — is insignificant on its own, even supremely mundane. But taken together, over time, the little snippets coalesce into a surprisingly sophisticated portrait of your friends’ and family members’ lives, like thousands of dots making a pointillist painting. This was never before possible, because in the real world, no friend would bother to call you up and detail the sandwiches she was eating. The ambient information becomes like “a type of E.S.P.,” as Haley described it to me, an invisible dimension floating over everyday life. [...]
In 1998, the anthropologist Robin Dunbar argued that each human has a hard-wired upper limit on the number of people he or she can personally know at one time. [...] Sure enough, psychological studies have confirmed that human groupings naturally tail off at around 150 people: the “Dunbar number,” as it is known. Are people who use Facebook and Twitter increasing their Dunbar number, because they can so easily keep track of so many more people?
As I interviewed some of the most aggressively social people online — people who follow hundreds or even thousands of others — it became clear that the picture was a little more complex than this question would suggest. Many maintained that their circle of true intimates, their very close friends and family, had not become bigger. [...] But where their sociality had truly exploded was in their “weak ties” — loose acquaintances, people they knew less well [...] — maintained via technology. [...]
Psychologists have long known that people can engage in “parasocial” relationships with fictional characters, like those on TV shows or in books, or with remote celebrities we read about in magazines. Parasocial relationships can use up some of the emotional space in our Dunbar number, crowding out real-life people. [...]
What is it like to never lose touch with anyone? [...]
“It’s just like living in a village, where it’s actually hard to lie because everybody knows the truth already,” Tufekci said. “The current generation is never unconnected. They’re never losing touch with their friends. So we’re going back to a more normal place, historically. If you look at human history, the idea that you would drift through life, going from new relation to new relation, that’s very new. It’s just the 20th century.” [...]
Many of the avid Twitterers, Flickrers and Facebook users I interviewed described an unexpected side-effect of constant self-disclosure. The act of stopping several times a day to observe what you’re feeling or thinking can become, after weeks and weeks, a sort of philosophical act. It’s like the Greek dictum to “know thyself,” or the therapeutic concept of mindfulness. [...]
In an age of awareness, perhaps the person you see most clearly is yourself.
- from Brave New World of Digital Intimacy
Aug 30, 2008
Always interested in visualization of ideas, I thought I'd give it a bit of 3-D touch. I made a Google Sketchup 3D model
And then incorporated into a more detailed graphic (click on image to see larger size).
Feel free to use any of these.
Aug 20, 2008
1. Click 'Start'
2. Wait for the countdown to complete - 3, 2, 1 ...
3. A bunch of numbers will very briefly appear on your screen and then get hidden by circles.
4. Click on the circles to go from the smallest number to the highest.
(The video below requires Flash player and is compatible with browsers Firefox, IE7 or Safari.)
It's also available here.
First time, my brain got 2 years less than my true age . Then kept fiddling with it I got tired and my brain got older. Tried it again after a break and I got 22, 10 less than my first time! Good to know that the brain's age can be adjusted to suit personal satisfaction.
Feel free to enter your scores in the comments and whether you think this is an accurate test.
Aug 3, 2008
It's not as fast as on TV
Aug 1, 2008
7x7 Session One, Seven Foundations – Our Reality 2008, Our Future 2028.
Jul 21, 2008
Work from Home
When the idea was joked about in our office meeting, there were two groans - and both from guys married with kids. I was one of them. I find it hard to imagine how one can be serious about doing work surrounded by the distractions of domestic bliss.
However it seems one US company has implemented just that plan, potentially saving a lot of money.
Chorus closed its headquarters in Hasbrouck Heights, New York in early June and its other office, in Texas, a month later. Now all of the company's 35 employees and full-time consultants work at home. For the most part, they love it.
Chorus CIO Rick Boyd says existing technology made it easy for his company to go virtual.
Boyd says the company decided to close its offices to save money and spare employees the hassle and rising cost of commuting and because it had the necessary technology to support such a move. President and CEO AJ Schreiber says Chorus can continue to serve customers while simultaneously saving US$400,000 a year simply by closing its 15,000 square feet of office space.
There's a catch - the following constraints were implemented to make this work:
- employee needs to have separate space in home, separated from rest of house and denizens. (Sorry no TV)
- employee needs to have work desk
- employee needs to be on desk during work hours, odd hours not allowed
- employees provided with computing and telecommunications equipment - laptops, monitors, keyboards, headsets, internet service, IP Communicators, Blackberry/Windows smartphones
- employee can buy office supplies (Paper, Ink, Post It notes etc.) and bill it to company
- right infrastructure, with backup plans in case something goes down
So in other words - you take your office cubicle and put it at home - no escape, really.
Read more in the Computerworld article.
Jul 20, 2008
Gmail vulnerability being exploited by spammers
There have been quite a few cases of emails being sent in the name of Gmail (Google Email) users to their contacts which have not been authored by the holders of those Gmail accounts. Known websites that have beeing using this technique are desktopdating.net, yaari.com & gazzag.com. These websites send invites and other spam in someone else's name to their contacts. An easy way to spot such a false email is to see the details or properties - it will show the from address as firstname.lastname@example.org, but the mailed by server will not be gmail, for example it may be desktopdating.net.
These sites have also been mentioned in a blog post of 'Ill-mannered websites'.
If you can, block or filter these websites in your email accounts, web servers an any other online channels. If you have become a member on these, I would strongly recommend that you unregister and remove any personal or social contact details. Finally, if you do recieve any email mentioning links to these websites, do not click on any of these links, as that will start a program that attempts to read through your entire contact list and store it for spamming purposes. Simply delete such email, marking as spam may be tricky as that may block the email address.
Though this vulnerability has since been fixed by Gmail, in the time window that was open some spammers had been able to harvest and collect contact lists for many email holders.
Jun 9, 2008
Honking Ears by KAL
As George Bush's term nears its end, it's probably the cartoonists who will be the most saddened. Meanwhile KAL carries on in a new media ...
And here's another on the democratic nomination race, which has just concluded ..
May 5, 2008
Who moved my chapati?
Perhaps a good factual counter-response comes in an article that my father sent me.
Each Indian gets to eat about 178 kg of grain in a year, while a US citizen consumes 1,046 kg.
In per capita terms, US grain consumption is twice that of the European Union and thrice that of China. Grain consumption includes flour and by conversion to alcohol.
In fact, per capita grain consumption has increased in the US — so actually the Americans are eating more. In 2003, US per capita grain consumption was 946 kg per year which increased to 1046 kg last year.
By way of comparison, India’s per capita grain consumption has remained static over the same period. It’s not just grains. Milk consumption, in fluid form, is 78 kg per year for each person in the US, compared to 36 kg in India and 11 kg in China.
"The increase in production and use of biofuels might be the cause why cultivable area is limited.
The UN and world financial bodies have pointed to an oncoming food crisis. Food riots in vulnerable countries like Haiti, Yemen and even Egypt may become more widespread. The sudden inflation is linked more to the rise in energy prices such as oil than anything else. Countries with self-sufficient food production will try to guard their stock, but higher energy prices will contribute to inflation nevertheless.
Time to tighten your grocery budget even further.
Apr 16, 2008
200,000 books, one Geek with his computers
It's unnerving to think that this process can be extended to other media like games, audio and video as well. Effectively it establishes the precedent that a person is not required to compile content into human consumption media items like books or movies.
At the library end, I wonder what this implies for cataloguers. It doesn't make sense for humans to be organizing output that comes from machines. Do cataloguers they have to be human too, or can they just be machines instantly summarizing and deriving overviews from the content?
I found some of these books here on Amazon.
The New York Times article can be found here.
Mar 6, 2008
Books: Richard Herley
He likens his delivery mode to software shareware - "A model based on trust" :
The fee is related to the length of work as well as to my collection costs, and is comparable to a single royalty from a mid-priced edition. It is much less than the price of a paperback or a commercial ebook of similar quality and length.
In this way you will encourage me to go on producing work you like. I hope that you will also feel a personal interest in the book concerned and a connection with its author.
The books are available on his website http://www.richardherley.com/ .
Mar 2, 2008
Book: Future of Reputations
An interesting book The Future of Reputation, by Daniel J. Solove is now available for free online. It describes itself in the introduction:
But there’s a dark side. As social reputation–shaping practices such as gossip and shaming migrate to the Internet, they are being transformed in significant ways. Information that was once scattered, forgettable, and localized is becoming permanent and searchable. Ironically, the free flow of information threatens to undermine our freedom in the future.
These transformations pose threats to people’s control over their reputations and their ability to be who they want to be.
- Case of John Seigenthaler Sr.,who was alarmed to find a biography of himself on Wikipedia that claimed that he was involved in the J.F.Kennedy assassination. Read more
- "I'm on Wikipedia, get me out of here "
The solutions to these problems probably lie in the very openness of the environment that is setup. First of all a disclaimer can be published that the information given is not necessarily verified. After that, self-assessing mechanisms can be enabled that contributors use to assess and qualify the authority of information objects found online, such as ratings.
There has been the emergence of certain organisations that offer reputation-monitoring services. They keep an eye on every online manifestation relevant to your interest and keep you informed if anything untoward takes place. One such is distilled.
Feb 7, 2008
Windows XP Themes - free and easy
Microsoft Vista, window operating system's new avatar, did come out with a lot of that stuff - but it turned out to be something that doesn't go smoothly on your average computer. The result is that many, including me, are now choosing to use the older Windows XP. Seeing the problems in Vista, we are learning to appreciate the relative stability of WinXP, it's compatibility with nearly all popular software products, and ability to get the job done without too much fuss.
Yet, there's still much left to be desired. This blog is about the limited 'themes' in WinXP. By default, you'll find that out-of-the-box you get only 3 themes in WinXP - Windows XP, Windows Classic and 'My Current Theme'. Not very inspiring. 'M themes online...' link never leads anywhere useful.
Now since Microsoft is not very helpful, we end up seeing third party software such as StyleXP. Many of these are not free, which these days is means unusable. Some have custom software to do the configuration. Ideally one should just be able to get themes online and set them using the default WinXP setup shown above.
There had to be an easier way, I found it with Multipatcher - here's how to use it:
- Get the software here (file is uxpatcher.zip), currently it is at version 5.5. Note that this software will only work on Windows XP/SP1/SP2 or Windows Server 2003 (with Themes enabled)
- Unzip this to get the file UXTheme Multi-Patcher 5.5.exe. Run this program. This edits the Windows dynamic link library file uxtheme.dll, so that it can accept theme files that have not been signed off by Microsoft, otherwise any other theme files will not be recognised.
- On running you will get the following dialogue widow:
- click the 'Patch' button to go ahead with the install. Following window will then appear:
- This checks out your windows system. Click the 'OK' button. A new window will appear:
- This warns you about the Windows File Protection dialogue appearing. I'll explain about that further, for now click 'OK'. Next window is:
- To restart the computer after install, click OK. Make sure any unsaved work on your computer is saved before doing so.
- Before you restart a Windows File Protection dialogue may appear:
- For which click 'Cancel', or the following may appear:
- for which you can click 'Yes'
- If you are uncomfortable with patching your uxtheme.dll file, note that running this program again will un-patch the file.
- You can find WinXP themes at varous online locations such as - here and here.
- To install these, put the *.theme file and any associated folders in C:\WINDOWS\Resources\Themes
- Then double-click on the file *.theme and it will open in the standard Display properties window shown above. Choose the theme and click 'Apply'.
Feb 5, 2008
Code Poets, Software Engineers
- And believe it or not, I don't fix computers for a living.
- There's these organizations, some (not all) still stuck in the 70s and 80s, called “I.T. Departments” who's official purpose is to fix computers — but who's actual purpose is to attempt to prevent their users from doing anything dangerous (read: useful.)
- A software developer must be part writer and poet, part salesperson and public speaker, part artist and designer, and always equal parts logic and empathy.
- A piece of software starts, before any code is written, as an idea or as a problem to be solved.
- It is always tied to a human being — their job, their entertainment… their needs.
- Once you understand what you need to build, you still don't begin building it. Like an architect or a designer, you start with a sketch, and you create a design.
- Its not uncommon for the design process to take longer than the coding process.
- You put on a sales hat and you pitch what you've dreamt up… then wait with bated breath while they dissect your brain child.
- Software that can't be understood can't be used, so no matter how brilliant your design, if your interface isn't elegant and beautiful and intuitive, your project is a failure.
- To make something easy to use requires at least a basic understanding of human reactions, an awareness of cognitive norms.
- Only, unlike a salesperson selling someone else's product, you are selling your own work, and are inevitably emotionally-attached to it.
- Maybe its more like music ...
- ... the pieces are added up, each in itself a little work of art, they make, if programmed properly, a whole that is much more than a sum. Its is an intertwined, and constantly moving piece of art.
- ... next comes a Quality Assurance Engineer (or QA) who tries to break your code, question your decisions, and generally force you to do better than what you thought was your best.
- it takes a true artist, or at least an earnest student, to understand just how brilliant — or how wretched — the work behind it is.
- As a lead developer on a project, it falls to you to instill confidence, to speak articulately and passionately about the appropriateness and worth of your solution.
- ... user's are never really satisfied. So you think back to the design process, you remind them when they had a part in the decisions ...
- And you write and you teach. ... responsibility to educate people on the uses of our technology ...
- Then there's a party, a brief respite, where you celebrate your victory ... And you start again. ...
- ... you are only as good as your latest victory.
Jan 14, 2008
Bill Gates's last day
Some like John C. Dvorak don't believe a word of it and say that the retirement is a joke and Bill will be back.