Saturday, 23 February 2008

Virtual Worlds and Your Real world Credit card

I was watching the BBC breakfast today on the emergence of a new (a bit old in the world ) web sites that promotes the phenomenon of virtual world. It’s really quite interesting to see the evolution of the web (forgetting the features of web 6.0 which we saw in my last blog); apart from serving our real world needs, web has now provisions to offer you an option of living out your fantasies in a virtual world. Though the virtual world hasn’t been pushed to the extremes of Isaac Asimov kind of fantasy realms-the current novel (The end of eternity) that i am reading talks about century 2458 -, it has emerged something to be noticed (other wise why should we care about it ;-)).
Virtual worlds are nothing new to the real world dwellers and it has taken different from being painted on the walls of the caves by homo habilis to what was captured on the papyrus by egyptians and to the various epics by various civilizations. Now a days virtual world has become synonymous with the sites like, and the likes of forrester's and gartner's have started talking about it.

So what prompts one to have a virtual world forgetting the current reality? We often get bored of the “now” as it is too daunting to carry on (esp when it doesnt go on the way you would want it to!). The illusionary world, esp if you can maintain your anonymity to others , becomes a let down for your thoughts which you wouldnt do normally - we do when we pass those 3 pints-.
It gives you a sense of control over your destiny and gives an easy option to pull out if you dont want (In the real world, can you bunk that Valentine's dinner that you promised to your wife/girlfriend, the very thought it self is scary).

It has always been a pleasure to be digging around the history to understand what has happened (at least it helps those dull historians and sci-fi authors to survive) and to ponder about what will happen in the future. The very thought of skipping away from the tortorous , face-slapping reality itself is a sigh of relief for many of us.

There are myriads of reasons which makes us frustrated in our day to day transactions and the virtual world entrepreneurs tap (or try to tap) our psychic need for attaining what we want to do and what we want to be. So instead of day dreaming about us becoming Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, we can create avatars of similar nature on our own and we can become one.

These virtual worlds seems to be an extension of what is there in those Xbox and ps-x games and with a complex interaction of multiple players, the role that you choose and way you get to interact with the real psyche of somebody in Montenegro and Fiji Islands makes life more interesting, esp those who live in the cities with a very minimal realistic human interaction in the fast paced world.

But its not only for burning out your free time, some practical usefulness of these could be in the areas of simulation aided with the adaptive learning based on artificial intelligence of virtual avatars where one could learn how to behave in a new social/economical/political conditions and understand what life was before some 200 years back(I want to be a part of Richard Feynmann's lectures) and who knows, if it is pushed to some extreme we could be a part of a movie and interact with its character in the virtual world site instead of just watching those heroes and heroines running around the trees trying to get away from heroines dad and uncle who wants to marry her.
Watch out for that virtual world where you can search , blog, mail, map etc and from google where there could be mood sensitive adverts (how about an ad for after being kicked out another cute girl avatar? Eric?)

But are these sites not trying to make you move away from the practical realities of life similar to what TV has been doing to us for a long-time with its melodramatic antiquities? May be yes or may be no, but hey, all is not well and if you want to have a good life in the virtual world, you need to shell out some good amount of dough from your real world credit card and beware, you cannot tell your wife and bank that you will repay using your avatar who is too wealthy out the business that you have launched ( I heard banks are preparing to send hooligan avatars to collect what you owe?) .

Monday, 18 February 2008

Web 3.0 and beyond!

Enough has already been discussed about web 2.0 and it has become definitely not an “in-thing” to talk about, personally I always feel web 2.0 was a cooked up marketing strategy for presenting things in a sophisticated way - which users always wanted. Web 2.0 is not a technical breakthrough in a great way that it could spark lot of innovations. All that we got was a bunch of social networking mumbo jumbos with Ajax in the presentation layer. But it is really getting to be interesting what is brewing as web 3.0.

Web 3.0 as per Tim Berners-lee is “People keep asking what Web 3.0 is. I think maybe when you've got an overlay of scalable vector graphics - everything rippling and folding and looking misty - on Web 2.0 and access to a semantic Web integrated across a huge space of data, you'll have access to an unbelievable data resource” This sounds really serious and don’t mean much to ordinary mortals who are not in the innovation league of Tim.
Last I heard about the innovation league was that they are working on web 6.0 where you can order a coffee from starbucks site and download through your USB port, 6.0 is a web that could convert the bits into liquid particles using B2PML (bit to particle mapping language), Don’t get me wrong , after all did any one believe about 3D printers?

So what could constitute web 3.0, here is a compilation of what the world feels about web 3.0
People would operate on a semantic web, i.e. the data that is available can be perceived as information and can be queried over the web. Somebody can initiate a query like, Hey Mr. Google; get me a list of all the politicians around the world who are honest? (Google after querying over numerous indexed semantic webs would judiciously return No data found.)

It would pave way for artificial intelligence, so the bot that we could write would browse over the world and get us the cheapest air-ticket for Hawaii, book a hotel room at the rate of 2$/day against the actual cost of 2000$ (next to where your childhood sweetheart who is still unmarried like you, stays; married guys get to stay in YMCA types alone) , place an order for a pick up cab with a driver who is pleasant and speaks Swahili for your convenience and send a smart convincing I-AM-FEELING-VERY-SICK mail to your boss

Distributed databases where one row of info could be in a db running with oracle in seattle and rest would be in liquid and semi solid format running on a unknown db in Ghana
Easy communication with aliens

Oops , i think I am getting too wild about futuristic web 3.0 and till the time I could see a sensible web 3.0 project in apache , I am happy to drink coffee in a traditional way by buying it from a coffee shop, You?

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Green Index of Software Solution and IT Industry

IT Industry leaves a big footprint in the environment, If one were to analyze the root cause for the impact ,it mainly arise due to the energy consumptions of the data centers, development facilities, etc – forgetting those poor souls who smoke -. The impact of the air travel is well talked about and there is nothing new to add. There has not been much thought revolving about arriving at a green index (at least I didn’t have one till I saw Oracle Ad on Green Solutions)

But are there ways to measure greenness of a solution?
For a certain solutions this may be straight forward, i.e. Content Management Solutions which are deployed to replace the paper bound systems and collaboration solutions that could save the travel.

For other solutions, I think it should be directly tied to the energy it consumes to run, this can be derived by running the solution in a green lab and calculating the energy that it consumes, but a typical application may need to interface with complex myriad of systems and it may be difficult to arrive at the overall index, may be we can have a composite green index for the overall solutions.

Another interesting factor could be the greenness of the process that produces the solution. Though its very hard to determine the energy/solution , it may be interesting to arrive at Energy Consumed / Staff as a measure of the green index of the facility and the IT facilities that have lesser energy consumption can be given rebates on tax to encourage companies to do so.-It would be sorry to see an unfortunate Indian IT company's green index shoot up during the summer time due to the power cuts though-

IT industries and Solutions can be graded by Green index, Composite Green Index whatever and marketing departments can have a new sales (marketing???) pitch to tout their competitors.

If the industry gets too greenesque, very soon you can see a software engineer coming to office on a horse, coding in a tree shade using his laptop powered by solar power or pedals (still chatting with his girl friend(s) and that unknown psychopath from armenia posing as Katherine Megirlowsky), wouldn’t it be fun?

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Chaos and a screwed evening,,

Yesterday was one of the very interesting days i have ever had in my life where every second was unpredictable - and was quite some fun -

It all started with my evening journey from Canary Wharf , there was a huge crowd infront of the travel card swipe counters and i had to wait for more than 20 minutes , after that i felt a sigh of relief, alas, it was shortlived.

The train to BakerStreet (Jubilee Line) was too crowded (adding to the misery was our huge crowd) , and i had to skip a few trains , then somehow i got into the train and was busy reading my recent book wikinomics, it was cut short after the train couldnt move from Canada Water Station, the announcer(lady) "Strongly Suggested" we take bus and proceed with our journey. So i came out and joined the huge queue for bus. The bus journey was rather interesting with the lady who came along with in the train shouting at her boy friend in an irritating mood, the train delay created lot of mood swings with people and another lady was shouting at her husband to keep the home free of fish smell :-)

Somehow i reached Paddington by 7:30 and after having missed the train to cirencester by just 10 mins , i was glad to see that there was another train by 7;48 pm with a "delayed" sign, With the days luck by myside, the wait become 10 mins , 20 mins, 30 mins and by 9 pm i was too tired to wait again for the trains which got stopped at barnam due to some fatality(heard it was a cow). I took a decision to end my bad day to stay in London itself as i had a meeting anyway in the morning.As we know, its always like "Man Proposes and God Disposes" and my day was not supposed to end there.

I went to the tourist info centre and the lady was pleasant to get me a booking and said the hotel was only 10 mins walk from Paddington Station , being too tired i decided to take a Underground train - minding my steps - , after getting on to the Bay Street station i took help from the Assistance counter and was told that i have to take a left and then a right , in my days chaos, i totally lost sense of direction and took a wrong right after taking a right left.
I was roaming around for another 20 mins and felt extremely exhausted thought of trying for cab, but unluckily there were no to my avail and after speaking to atleast 10 people, and calling up the hotel - should have done first - i finally reached the hotel. The place was looking good -Kensington Square- and unfortunately the hotel was not. I checked in around 10 pm and relaxed in the bed for the while thinking back about my bad day, hoping it was just one of those days when things dont go in your favour.

But life is never void of surprises and when i went to the pub for the food (ofcourse couple of pints) , i got to understand the kitchen was closed and there were not many a restaurants around. I came sad to the hotel after having 2 pints of stella and 2 packs of peanuts and started to work on the presentation that i had to make for an important meeting - Wow, the wireless internet didnt work......
If i run a wild imagination , "could an inciedent(a wild sneeze by a busker) in the canary wharf would have resulted in this chaos in the trains?",

We all plan a lot and a few unexpected events change them swiftly and the funny part is you will not be able to predict them and hence dont have any control over them, they just pop up and mess your wholly. Anyway whats the fun about a predictable life?

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Three Spectacular Economic Events and Execution of Strategies(Some failed too..)

Anyone who is closely following the world news would have understood the significance of three major events of last couple of weeks

a) Jerome Kerviel , the rogue trader who vandalised billions of Soc Gen
b) Chinalco's Audacious bid for Rio Tinto and
c) Microsoft's bid for Yahoo

The three events are seemingly interconnected by depicts the dawn of new era where the strenous effects to succedd pushes you beyond the imaginations

Lets have a closer look at these events ,
Jerome Kerviel was an un assuming back office guy who on a chance became a trade floor guy and traded beyond limits using fake hedges, Awesome, how was it allowed in the first place?
It has paved a new way for the predatory take over guys like BNP, Credit Agricole etc for some action.

Monsieur's of Soc Gen must have been busy attending concerts in La Opera while Eurex send them a warning,

After all french didnt bother about Hitlers' rise and were asking for evidences of his wrong doing....

Chinalco's dawn raid using Lehmans has been a phenomenal 007 kind of a story , they just knocked of $14 bn of Rio's stock(nearly 12%) under its nose on a day when BHP was still strategising for a formal bid, dude this world is for and by fast movers. Its really amazing to see what free economy allows you to do and all it takes is to come up with a bold strategy and strong way to execute.
The masterpiece of execution was to use Lehman Brother's do the hard work and having Alcoa by the side to thwart any foul cries. The bid looks very smart and cunningly executed as if Sun-Tzu was in the take over bid, May be we should expect more from the dragon country in the coming days.

MS's bold new initiative has been the second biggest tech take over (first being AOL's take over on Time Warner for 112.some billion $), and its sad to see a company of yahoo's stature going out to be eaten away without a choice-This could be their best choice-am sure they can figure out a way to improve the business by 61% as offered by Microsoft.
MS has lost millions in catching up game with Google and this would be a feast to all of us to see the corporate strategic minds to battle the Google.

It is really thoughtful to analyse these events on similar or opposite grounds
Jerome Kerviel was a failed trader, the act is over and lost (atleast for him)
Chinalco's bid is over and it would be interesting to the aftermath efforts
MS-Yahoo deal is still brewing and would be interesting to watch in the coming days.
Its amazing to understand or atleast to witness the corporate strategic decisions in actions and am sure they are worth following for our own learning as well.
Thanks to the new world, life is never dull and lets keep watching all of these events......