Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson - alive in Bollywood!

Watching the coverage following MJ's sudden death last night on television, I had tears in my eyes.

His music was an integral part of growing up! My memory of him will be his Superbowl performance, where he stands frozen for close to a minute with fans screaming!! A twitch in time saves nine!

When watching some of the choreographed moves in the music video, our sons pointed out that those are like the steps used in Bollywood songs!

True! He was not just a musical genius; his moves (or attempts at copying his moves) are standard formula for many Bollywood's superstars, like Hrithik Roshan. (I was surprised myself at the obvious copy of Michael's superbowl moves in this Hrithik video, ironically watermarked "Evaluation Copy")

Bollywood does this quite a bit. Once, I was watching an old Texas western, and the villain was eerily familiar ... Amjad Khan in Sholay!! The interesting thing is ..sometimes the "copy" is better, e.g., Masoom vs. Man, Woman and Child. Michael's moves have inspired hundreds of Bollyformula films!

But MJ has set the bar! Not even Bollywood can top Michael's moves!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Life 3.0 - The webpage lives on!

It was quite a shock to hear about the untimely and implausible passing of Dr. Rajeev Motwani. I cannot claim that he was my mentor, but I did meet him several times, had exchanged many emails with him, had coffee with him on University Avenue, was introduced to several people by him, and also presented once to his team at Stanford. He was always friendly, helpful and insightful. He'll be missed.

Over the past weeks since his passing, the Web has had an uncanny way of bringing him up! First, of course, all the Tweets and disbelief. Then the articles and blog posts. Then, when launching a search transliteration feature, I visited a Kannada website for testing, and his photograph featured on the front page! Searching in my personal email, emails from him surfaced. Saw a reference to Sergey Brin's blogpost at work today!

Visting his Facebook page, there were messages that were as recent as an hour old! Unfortunately, he was gone before he could sign up for his user-friendly URL.

The new Social Net doesn't even require anyone to validate posted messages on their pages - we can keep a conversation going right through his webpage!!

This is a new world, where your public legacy extends even beyond your contributions and accomplishments! Rajeev's Facebook profile, Randy Pausch's "Last Lecture", and Jim Gray's Wikipedia page ("born 1944, lost at sea January 28, 2007") are living entities!

What will your web page say about you when you aren't logging on anymore?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Shedding a new light!

Load shedding ... this time it's OK!

Getting a nice reception out of the starting gates, startup HID Labs seems to be onto something! Their new High-intensity discharge (HID) lighting solution apparently cuts down energy usage for industrial, warehouse, and store lighting byup to 40%! The local indoor soccer complex likes them! Quoted:
Lighting represents 22% of U.S. electricity consumption and up to 30% of a commercial building's energy bill. High-efficiency lighting can reduce energy use — and the U.S. carbon footprint.
Their SmartPOD light fixture uses advanced switching technology to make these big-power-guzzler lights more efficient, dynamic (change based on conditions) and potentially networkable (for management). I'm no expert on lighting technology, but I believe that this commercial lighting sector is key to large savings in power. I've wondered why many large stores keep all (or a large percentage of their lights) on even after hours!! Security surely doesn't entail this kind of wastage, especially in places like malls...

I'm not sure if this is just lip service, but their environmental commitment statement is pretty positive:
We've set a five-year goal of reducing the carbon footprint of the built environment by 3 million tons and diverting more than 13,000 tons of waste from landfills. Our aim is to enable the net-zero energy building of the future. Internet energy for the masses!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Progressively scanning television!

This last week's transition of television from analog to digital is a concrete milestone showing how much we've progressed in terms of delivery of information and entertainment to the home!

Today, even as traditional news media organizations are attacked on an ongoing basis by technology advances that stress their survival, making them seem obsolete and slow, e.g., see the trending topic #IranElections "coverage" of the Iran election on Twitter, Flickr, News and Blog search, other technology advances offer a richer delivery of multimedia content on phones, computers and televisions, forcing innovation in communications and cable companies.

High definition digital television is just...awesome! It will be interesting to see when high quality collides with the democratization of media...


We got our first television (a color TV) in time for the New Delhi Asian games (1982). At that time, we had neighbours who had black and white sets that they "upgraded" to color by placing translucent pink/blue screens over the set!! The "sepia" mutiny!!

When we were graduate students in Houston, my roommate and I had 2 hand-me-down B&W sets - one had better audio, the other had a great crisp picture - so we'd often turn both on :-) - that was the birth of Dolby "multimodal stereo" (patent pending!). When we had guests, for fun, we'd sometimes tune them to different channels - I can't describe the entertainment value of that!

Today, TIVO/DVRs are mandatory technology (once you've been exposed!). I find it difficult to watch a regular (non-HD) channel on my TV! U-Verse from ATT allows you to play 4 different programs to HD TVs in your home! Sony's Playstation 3, Apple TV and Windows Media Center are vying to become your online living room hub.

Like it or not, TV has gone digital in the U.S. - 1080 progressive ... here we come!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dial "E" for egregious!

European regulators are forcing Microsoft to not ship Internet Explorer with Windows 7. Are regulators over-reaching, or are they just stupid/useless/obsolete... (anyone remember SEC - Madoff?).

Not allowing the browser to be shipped with the operating system seems like a bit much, and definitely not in the interests of the user. I know, I know ... it's not like the manufacturers are going to ship machines without a browser - (imagine not having *any* browser loaded - how do you download a browser? FTP??) - manufacturers will have a choice about browser to include - but this is bogus IMO ... the choice should be to override the default browser, not ship without one! With IE's large browser market share, it's the logical default choice for manufacturers, and these regulators are just making more work for them, or worse, for the users.

Let companies innovate, and have meaningful checks and balances in place. Will Apple be forced to not ship Safari on iPhones? Will Google be forced to drop Chrome on the floor? Will banned by some country's "regulators" because its citizens can actually communicate openly (oops! that already happened...)

I just reinstalled my OS on my home machine, after a virus thingy, and the network driver is not working - do you know how frustrating that is? I can't connect to the network to download my drivers...

Let technology move on!

Please don't cut off your nose to spite your Face(book)!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Computer wars - the Trojan strategy!

The machines are winning ... they are taking over the world by quietly, but surely, taking out increasing numbers of humans!! They started out by causing a pain-in-the-neck here, a throbbing-wrist there, a headache over dinner, motion-sickness in the bus, but now...they're getting bolder!!

They are apparently sending people to hospital emergency rooms in larger numbers!! Laugh if you will, but they're getting stronger (each computer doing more damage than ever before) - as quoted:
"Worse, the number of injuries outpaced the number of new computers in the home. While injuries jumped 732 percent, household computer ownership increased by just 309 percent."
Aha! Not to be outdone, we're battling them "head on" -> Terminator - the Resistance of the Flat Screen:
The data also showed head injuries increased until 2003, and then went on a decline. The authors guessed that the move to thinner LCD screens from the heavy, boxy cathode ray tube monitors had a safety benefit.
They have therefore evolved a more subtle Trojan strategy - viruses!

Given how many times I've wanted to bash in my computer over the last month due to a viral infection (not me, the computer, stupid!) driving me crazy, and also bang my head on the nearest wall ...I can believe that these critters are indeed going to take over the planet!! Proof, you ask? Well - how many humans on the planet, and how many cell phones??? What's the rate of growth?

Have you ever tried to play a YouTube video on the much-hyped Apple iPhone? I dunno about you, but I've *never* seen a full-length (5-minute!) user-generated movie on that deceptively cute machine without it teasing and stuttering, causing emotional trauma!!

Promises, promises...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Virtual Reality Check

Late last year, a couple got confused between the real and virtual worlds, causing a virtual affair to lead to real world divorce!

The blurring of real and virtual continues at a rapid pace. Developments like voice recognition, laser projection from cell phones and Pranav Mistry's cool 6th sense device help bring the digital world a step closer -- breathing, signing, talking, walking, and gesturing to accomplish real-world tasks. That's all about living better!

Playing! That's more important, isn't it? At E3, Sony announced a new way to play, a special controller building on the success of Nintendo's Wiimote - a physical bridge to the virtual game. And XBOX is promising a lot with Project Natal. PC World has a good comparison and some questions.
Natal, according to Microsoft, uses a sensor that combines a camera, a depth sensor, a multi-array microphone, and a custom processor running proprietary software all in one device.
Virtually a reality!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Greener Sixth Sense

Ever since I saw this video (YouTube copy here) of MIT's 6th sense, I've wanted to write about it. Watch it in its entirety - it even elicited a "way cool" from my otherwise stoic teen - his Vulcan emotional integrity was severely compromised!!

Seeing the article on the Green laser turning cell phones into projectors brought this concept right back to the forefront!

Couple the MIT 6th sense technology with razor-sharp laser display on any surface, add voice control, and you have a serious paradigm shift.

In fact, one of the things that's been happening with mobile devices (and I was convinced needed to happen) - repurposing an application for the small form factor, e.g., Android and iPhone apps for Gmail and Facebook - may actually get reversed! If I can project from a tiny phone to a larger surface (anywhere), why do I need a constrained application screen size? I would have the choice of not even using the device screen; instead, project to the nearest surface, use a rollable bluetooth OLED display that I carry in my pocket, or the virtual projection in my glasses!

Going green may just mean something entirely different!