Sunday, November 29, 2009

Google-Microsoft Crossfire Will Hit Consumers

Newsweek's Dan Lyons doesn't know who will be the winner in Google and Microsoft's search battle, but that's not stopping him from picking a loser — consumers. As we head towards a world where some devices may be free or really cheap, consumers should prepare to be bombarded by ads or pay a premium to escape them. 'The sad truth is that Google and Microsoft care less about making cool products than they do about hurting each other,' concludes Lyons. 'Their fighting has little to do with helping customers and a lot to do with helping themselves to a bigger slice of the money we all spend to buy computers and surf the Internet. Microsoft wants to ruin Google's search business. Google wants to ruin Microsoft's OS business. At the end of the day, they both seem like overgrown nerdy schoolboys fighting over each other's toys."

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Algae could be the key to Ultra-Thin Batteries

Algae is often touted as the next big thing in biofuels, but the slimy stuff could also be the key to paper-thin biodegradable batteries, according to researchers at Uppsala University in Sweden. Uppsala researcher Maria Stromme and her team has found that the smelly algae species that clumps on beaches, known as Cladophora, can also be used to make a type of cellulose that has 100 times the surface area of cellulose found in paper. That means it can hold enough conducting polymers to effectively recharge and hold electricity for long amounts of time. Eventually, the bio batteries could compete with commercial lithium-ion batteries.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Ghost Workers

The Hindustan Times today reported that thanks to a brand new biometric attendance system, the MCD has found out they have 22, 853 fake employees on their rolls. A probe revealed that the corporation now has 104,241 employees. The MCD employs people ranging from teachers to cleaners and gardeners in the capital city of 14 million people. The corporation spends about Rs 17 crore a month and Rs 204 crore per year to pay these fake employees. But no one is sure for how long this has been going on.

Till the biometric system beeped and gave the story away, the municipal corporation had been in denial mode about this scandal. In true sarkari sytle, an in-depth inquiry has been promised into this incident and a freeze has been ordered on fresh recruitments.

Now all we need is a system to measure the efficiency of the remaining workers who reportly come to work everyday.


The gadget that seems to have captured the lion’s share of the geek imagination in TechRepublic’s Geek Gift Guide 2009 is the Powermat wireless charger, which recharges your other electronic gadgets, like the iPhone 3G S for example, wirelessly using magnetic induction. That’s what I said, magnetic induction. Just try to get a more geek-worthy gift than that for around $100.

The other compelling thing about the Powermat is that it is a glimpse into the future. At CES in 2009, there were several companies showing prototype systems that use magnetic induction to power everything from room lighting to small appliances in the kitchen. The George Jetson lifestyle may be closer than you think.

Dr Vernon Huang Demonstrates the Shareable Ink Technology at TEDMED

It all started when anesthesiologist Vernon Huang wanted to figure out a better way to streamline his billing. How could he bridge the gap between what's written on paper and what must be entered into an electronic database?

Huang, who's clocked in time as a senior manager for health care markets at Apple, designed a digital pen whose tiny camera embedded right next to the ink cartridge captures every stroke of the written word on film and whose images are uploaded wirelessly and automatically to a remote database.

He knew such an invention has a range of applications well beyond billing, and founded Shareable Ink (headquartered in Newton, Mass., with a branch in San Mateo, Calif.). Medgadget caught up with Huang at TedMed and posted a shaky but informative demonstration:

There is, of course, competition. German company Ontaris is already using this kind of technology for DiabCareOnline, allowing people who need to track their glucose levels regularly but don't always have access to the online forms--or perhaps don't know how to use a computer at all--to simply fill out a form by hand whose numbers autopopulate for the physician's review.

Huang lists emergency care and anesthesiology as fields with obvious early, but clearly not exclusive, adopters. "Anesthesiology is our low-hanging fruit.... Once people see this technology they really start to brainstorm various ways to use it," he tells me by phone today.

I see this pen migrating all over, and well beyond, the medical field, especially because it is the pen, but not the paper, that is special.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Tag Images with Your Mind

Slashdot Stories (10): "'Researchers at Microsoft have invented a system for tagging images by reading brain scans from an electroencephalograph (EEG). Tagging images is an important task because many images on the web are unlabeled and have no semantic information. This new method allows an appropriate tag to be generated by an AI algorithm interpreting the EEG scan of a person's brain while they view an image. The person need only view the image for as little as 500 ms. Other current methods for generating tags include flat out paying people to do it manually, putting the task on Amazon Mechanical Turk, or using Google Image Labeler.'"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Exploring the power of Social Networking sites

Today I spent considerable time trying to ensure that my blog is cross posted on twitter and facebook. I learnt about feedburner, twitterfeed,, but at the end was convienced that it is a fairly simple process and any one who can write a blog and leverage it further by posting on various other fora.

Man marries Video Game character

Today I came across a most interesting news story on CNET - Technically Incorrect page - the marrage of a Japanese man to a video game character. The story had an accompanying You Tube Video of the wedding. Off course, it is possible that the wedding was a hoax for publicity (remember the ballon boy story), but if true, then it is very disturbing.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Just saw a wonderful video about Pranav Mistry's Sixth Sense device . At TEDIndia, Pranav Mistry demonstrated several tools that help the physical world interact with the world of data -- including a deep look at his SixthSense device and a new, paradigm-shifting paper "laptop." In an onstage Q &A, Mistry says he'll open-source the software behind SixthSense, to open its possibilities to all.

It is a really wonderful demonstration and a must see for anyone interested in technology. Thanks Suchit for the link.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Do small businesses invest in technology?

Hi ! Was just wondering if small businesses really invest in cutting edge technology? Does the size of the company matter or is it the awareness level of the owners which is the deciding factor? What about 'Peer Pressure' - the need to adopt technology because others in the same business are doing it?

In other words, what would make a small business (and remember, they make up the bulk of the Indian market) spend money on the latest technology? I am seeking an answer to this question. Your inputs are welcome.