Wednesday, January 25, 2006

mp3 Tickets over an iPod ?!

Ingenico's research teams have developed the world's first-ever terminal accepting a payment on an iPod®(1) . This pioneering invention, using i5100 technology, was demonstrated at the Cartes 2005 exhibition held November 15-17, 2006 and aroused significant interest. While this demonstration may not be a sign of what the future holds, it certainly proves Ingenico's ability to innovate for the benefit of its current and future customers.

Consumer habits have changed dramatically since the introduction of digital portable technology, such as MP3 players. Today, millions of Internet users routinely download entire music collections on to their music players, the most popular of which is Apple's iPod.

One of the most popular and exciting iPod accessories is Griffin’s iTrip FM transmitter. iTrip is a technically simple yet ingeniously useful module that, when plugged to the iPod, transmits music via the FM band. Drivers can play music stored on an iPod through their car's FM radio.
Ingenico’s i5100 terminal integrates with Atlantic Radio System’s FM data extraction module, allowing it to communicate with the iPod via the FM band while enabling users to pay for goods using their MP3 player.

At this past Cartes exhibition, Ingenico demonstrated how, in a hypothetical future, travellers could book plane tickets and receive them via MP3 format by e-mail. He or she would then just need to store the MP3 receipt on an iPod before going to the airport. When preparing to board, the traveller would simply play the MP3 ticket on the iPod to send all ticket information securely and in real time to the boarding gate. Ticket information might include passport, itinerary and price data as well as pre-encoded biometric features for passenger verification at the gate. The same intuitive, user friendly payment system can also be used for gift vouchers, tickets and virtually all other forms of prepaid transaction.
(1) iPOD® is a trademark of Apple Computer, Inc.
(2) iTrip is a registered trademark of Griffin Technology, Inc.

About Atlantic Radio System
Atlantic Radio System was created in 2001. The company develops and sells innovative radio solutions (FM, RDS, DARC…) that allow all audiences to get real-time and broadcasted information, anywhere in France , without any need for a costly connection.

Disney-Pixar: It's a Wrap

The deal would make Steve Jobs the Mouse House's biggest shareholder, and it could shake up the industry

The merger of high tech and entertainment seems to have arrived. At an all-day meeting on Jan. 23, Walt Disney's (DIS) board of directors agreed to buy Steve Jobs's Pixar Animation (PIXR) powerhouse for about $7 billion, BusinessWeek Online has learned. Jobs, who's also chief executive of Apple Computer (AAPL), would become Disney's largest shareholder and take a seat on the Disney board, according to sources with knowledge of the deal.

The transaction could transform Disney, whose own animated films have been less than spectacular in recent years, into the animation dynasty it was during the early 1990s, when it turned out such hits as Beauty and the Beast and Lion King. But just as important, the acquisition will usher in a new era in which Disney, with Jobs and Disney CEO Bob Iger allied, could rewrite the rules of how entertainment is distributed digitally via new consumer technologies.

Additional specifics about the deal aren't yet clear. As of late Jan. 23, the agreement still had to be approved by Pixar's board of directors, the sources say. Disney's board approved the transaction with the expectation that it could be announced on Jan. 24. The terms include giving Jobs an estimated 7% stake in Disney and letting Pixar's top creative executive, John Lasseter, have a key role in advising Disney in creative matters. It's expected that Pixar, which made such animated blockbusters for Disney as Toy Story, Monsters, Inc., and The Incredibles, would continue to work from its Northern California headquarters.

MORE CORDIAL NOW. An immediate announcement of the deal was held up so that Jobs and Pixar top officials could personally tell Pixar executives, presumably on the morning before the announcement was made public. A Disney spokeswoman declined to comment beyond denying that a deal had been reached.

If completed, the agreement would end a long and initially stormy negotiating process between the two companies (see BW Online, 1/20/06, "Will Steve Jobs Be Disney's Big Cheese?"). The companies' existing agreement, in which Disney and Pixar share the cost of making the films while Disney releases them, was scheduled to end this summer when Pixar delivers the final film, Cars, under that agreement. Since then, Jobs has been talking to other studios about doing a distribution deal, but he has kept open the lines of communication with Disney executives. Relations between the two companies improved last year, when Disney CEO Michael D. Eisner, with whom Jobs often sparred, resigned.

Jobs's relationship with Eisner's successor, Bob Iger, is much more cordial, and Iger nurtured their ties by making Disney TV shows like Desperate Housewives and Lost available for the video iPod that Apple began selling last year. Moreover, Iger and Jobs get along well on a personal level, as do Jobs with Disney studio chief Dick Cook, the initial architect for the Disney side.

FORWARD THINKER. Whether or how quickly Jobs can push Disney further into digital distribution for films is unclear. But analysts have long predicted that Apple will eventually introduce living room gear to make that more feasible. Many Apple rumor sites have suggested that Jobs & Co. are working on a version of the Mac Mini that would be designed to connect to the TV and could be operated via Apple's Front Row software and Apple Remote, which are already available on the iMac desktop PC. Such a machine would let customers who download movies via Apple's iTunes Music Store watch them on their TVs.

Iger, who's an early adopter for many new technologies, is considered among the most forward thinking of media executives and is likely to welcome accelerated delivery of entertainment over the Web and through wireless means, if safeguards could be worked out to secure the content.

China Shining ?

China's Economy Expanded 9.9% in 2005, Passing U.K.

Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) -- China's economy grew 9.9 percent in 2005, probably overtaking the U.K. as the world's fourth largest, powered by record exports and investment in manufacturing.
Gross domestic product rose to 18.2 trillion yuan ($2.26 trillion) after expanding 10.1 percent in 2004, statistics bureau Commissioner Li Deshui said today in Beijing. The U.K. government will release an estimate for 2005 GDP today.

Premier Wen Jiabao wants to encourage spending by the nation's 1.3 billion people to reduce China's reliance on overseas markets and investment for growth. The manufacturing expansion that helped China's economy more than double in size in the past decade has led to excess capacity that may cause bankruptcies, bad loans and job losses, said Li.

"China relies too much on exports, and consumption is too weak,'' said Ha Jiming, chief economist at CICC Corp, China's largest investment bank. "If external demand falls for any reason and domestic demand can't consume what China's producing, you'll get overcapacity, wasted investment, deflation and rising non-performing loans.''

The economy grew 9.9 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier after expanding a revised 9.8 percent in the previous three months, the statistics bureau said today. Economists forecast growth of 9.5 percent in the quarter and 9.8 percent for the full year, according to a Bloomberg News survey.

The Morgan Stanley Capital International Asia-Pacific Index added 0.7 percent to 125.96 at 2:15 p.m. in Tokyo.

Bad Loan Risks
Li told reporters he's ``cautiously optimistic'' about China's growth outlook for this year. ``The driver of the economy is shifting from investment to a more balanced situation based on consumption,'' he said. Average GDP growth of 10 percent is sustainable for ``many years,'' said Li.

Even so, Li cautioned that China's economic growth still isn't efficient and said the government should seek to prevent fixed-asset investment from rebounding. Overcapacity in industries such as automobiles, steel and aluminum may boost unemployment, he said, adding that banks should be more careful in lending.

"Overproduction is a threat because it will introduce bad loans among banks, cause bankruptcies and lead to rising unemployment,'' Li said. "So it's very important that we guard against this.''
Steel capacity is already 120 million tons greater than demand and an additional 70 million tons is under construction, the National Development and Reform Commission said Dec. 3. More than a quarter of the nation's 10.3 million tons of aluminum production capacity is lying idle and vehicle production capacity is 2 million more than needed.

China's banking regulator told banks on Jan. 18 to monitor their lending more closely, especially to industries where the government is restricting expansion, to prevent non-performing loans from amassing. China's banking system has created almost $850 billion in bad debt over the past 15 years, UBS AG said in a report the same day.

Surging demand from China has driven up global commodities prices in the past year, putting pressure on corporate profits.

Copper for April delivery, the most active contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange, rose as much as 450 yuan, or 1 percent, to 44,300 yuan a ton today, bringing gains in the past 12 months to 50 percent. Benchmark oil prices in New York have jumped 34 percent in that period and aluminum prices in Shanghai gained 26 percent.

The U.K. economy was worth $2.14 trillion in 2004, according to the World Bank, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has forecast 1.7 percent growth for the country in 2005. The U.S. economy, which measured $11.7 trillion in 2004, is the world's largest.

Growth Engine
Exports, coupled with booming fixed-asset investment, made China the world's fastest-growing major economy and an engine for worldwide expansion. China was the second-biggest contributor to global growth in 2004, after the U.S., according to the International Monetary

The nation's exports surged 28 percent to $762 billion last year, generating a record $102 billion trade surplus. Overseas sales amounted to almost 40 percent of GDP, compared with about 25 percent in France, according to the World Bank. Investment makes up almost half of China's output.

The forces that drove China's growth also led to difficulties. Its main trading partners accuse China of maintaining an undervalued currency to spur exports. The country is also suffering from transport bottlenecks and power shortages in several provinces.

"The composition of growth is becoming more important,'' said Andrew Milligan, head of global strategy at Standard Life Investments in Edinburgh, which oversees about $225 billion. ``The more it is orientated toward fixed-asset investment and exports, the more we are going to be seeing pressures for a revaluation and a potential trade disruption.''

Lawmakers in the U.S., the biggest market for Chinese exports, say a 2.1 percent revaluation of the yuan against the dollar in July isn't enough and are considering tariffs on imports from China.

Expansion may slow to as little as 8.5 percent this year as growth in exports and investment cools, the statistics bureau said yesterday, citing a survey of 77 economists at the nation's top planning agencies. That would be the slowest pace since 2001.

A nationwide census completed last year that revealed millions of previously unaccounted-for services companies helped ease concerns about China's ability to sustain growth. The census, published last month, added $284 billion -- equivalent to the output of Austria -- to China's 2004 GDP and suggested services are more important to the economy than previously thought.

Five-Year Plan
In announcing their blueprint for economic development for the coming five years in October, China's leaders said they will step up efforts to stimulate consumer spending in an economy where per capita incomes are still a 16th of France's.

Wen, 63, is also seeking to bolster living standards in the rural areas that are home to 800 million Chinese, and where incomes are a third of those in towns and cities. China abolished agriculture taxes from Jan. 1 and is lifting minimum wages.

Li said today that China's per capita income in 2005 was $1,700. That's up from $1,500 in 2004, when China ranked 129th in the world, behind Egypt and Iran, according to World Bank figures.
Companies such as Harley-Davidson Inc. are seeking to tap into that growth. A majority of business leaders plan to invest in China in the next three years, a PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP survey presented today at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, showed.

Hogs in China
Harley-Davidson, the biggest U.S. motorcycle maker, plans to open its first dealership in China as early as this year, it said last week.

Overall consumption, which includes government spending on services such as education and health as well as consumer purchases of houses and cars, accounted for about 55 percent of GDP in 2004, the lowest ratio since free-market reforms began in 1978, according to the Asian Development Bank.

Wen said the lack of public services is the ``weakest link'' in the development of rural areas, the official Xinhua News Agency reported on Jan. 19. He was cited as saying the government will spend more on health, education and infrastructure in the countryside over the next five years.
Raising rural incomes is a ``top priority'' for the government, the statistics bureau's Li said.
Limited access to public services has led to a savings rate that's too high and comes at the expense of consumer spending, economists said. China's gross savings rate was 47 percent of GDP in 2003, double the world average, according to the World Bank's 2005 World

Development Indicators report.
"The government has to spend more on education, healthcare and pensions to take the burden off individuals and give them more confidence to spend,'' said Qu Hongbin, an economist at HSBC Holdings Plc in Hong Kong.

Would You Recommend Us?

That simple query to customers is shaking up planning and executive pay.

It wasn't exactly Thomas Edison and the lightbulb, but for Peter McCabe, it was a eureka moment all the same. In the fall of 2004, McCabe, chief quality officer for General Electric Co.'s (GE ) health-care business, read a Harvard Business Review article recommended by a colleague. It suggested companies measure customer loyalty by asking one simple question rather than relying on lengthy satisfaction surveys: "On a scale of zero to 10, how likely is it that you would recommend us to your friends or colleagues?"

The article showed that "net promoter scores," which measure the difference between the percentage of customers who give high responses ("promoters") and those who give low ones ("detractors"), correlate closely with a company's revenue growth. Promoters are defined as customers who give the company 9 or 10, while detractors hand out "0" through 6. Customers who log 7 or 8 are deemed "passively satisfied" and aren't calculated in the final score. The article's finding stopped McCabe in his tracks. "Wow, this is kind of perfect," he thought.

McCabe and others at the famously metrics-driven company had been looking for a better way to measure customer loyalty. At the time, some of GE Healthcare's units were using traditional customer satisfaction questionnaires as a gauge. But those indicated only vague feelings rather than the more telling action of praising a product to a friend -- and they didn't track with repurchase rates. As a result, such surveys often got the brush-off from employees who saw them as a "hobby" of the marketing or quality-control department, says McCabe.

He and other GE Healthcare executives quickly rolled out net promoter scores in place of the satisfaction surveys some divisions were using. "It was a 'Texas hold 'em' kind of thing," he says. "We went all in." Twenty percent of managers' bonuses were tied to the scores, which closely tracked sales growth. Then, in January, 2005, members of McCabe's team shared the idea at GE's annual global leadership meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., where CEO Jeffrey R. Immelt greeted the approach with enthusiasm. As a result, in 2006 all GE businesses must report net promoter scores for the first time. "I have little doubt that this will be as big and long-lasting for GE as Six Sigma was," says McCabe of GE's vaunted and much-copied quality system.

With rhetoric like that, it's no wonder net promoter scores are becoming a popular, and, many say, powerful way to measure customer loyalty, drive compensation, and flag troubled products. By asking customers whether they would put their own credibility on the line by recommending a company to a friend, net promoter scores, say fans of the concept, are truer indicators of loyalty and future behavior and, therefore, sales growth. American Express Co.'s (AXP ) U.S. consumer-cards president, Jud Linville, calls the scores a "beacon." Management and information technology consulting firm BearingPoint Inc. (BE ) is considering tying bonuses to the scores after it found that clients that give high net promoter scores also show the highest revenue growth. Software maker Intuit Inc. (INTC ) is even reporting its scores in conference calls with analysts.

The approach is gathering steam at a time when CEOs are increasingly focused on getting closer to customers. It also plays into the executive lament that loyalty management programs, which track customer retention, are among the most ineffective tactics in their toolbox. Pair that with mounting recognition of the power of word of mouth and social networks, and it's easy to see why buzz is building. There's even a book on the horizon: The Ultimate Question by Fred Reichheld, founder of Bain & Co.'s loyalty practice and author of the article that piqued McCabe's interest, is due out on Mar. 2.

Still, Reichheld's concept is controversial. Many in the customer satisfaction industry say it is facile, and they worry that companies will start using the analysis without doing enough follow-up research to understand what's going right or wrong with their offerings. They also question the precision of the metric. Angry detractors who rate the company a "0" on the 0-to-10-point scale are weighted the same as uninspired customers who give it a "6." "Clearly, it's attractive to have something simple," says Claes Fornell, the University of Michigan researcher behind the American Customer Satisfaction Index, which tracks national customer sentiment about some 200 companies. "But to have something simplistic that points you in the wrong direction is not recommended, either."

As academics debate the details, managers are putting the scores into practice. At AmEx' consumer-cards unit, for example, low scores act as a tip-off that something may be wrong. One co-branded card suffered from low scores despite high customer usage and acquisition rates. That alerted managers to probe further. They discovered a need to simplify a complex application and make card rewards match up more closely with customer spending. The result? Net promoter scores almost doubled.

One effect of the new approach is that companies are spending more time listening to promoters and detractors. In the European unit of GE Healthcare's services business, which maintains its hospital imaging equipment, managers following up with naysaying customers found that a chief complaint was slow response times from competent engineers. So the division is overhauling its call center and putting more specialists in the field; now net promoter scores are jumping by 10 to 15 points.

McCabe says higher scores have already been linked to a greater likelihood that GE Healthcare will win new contracts from existing hospital clients. "Ultimately, it's not about the score," he says. It's about "focusing on the customer."

If your days are numbered, try this
Times of India
[ Wednesday, January 25, 2006 09:31:50 pmTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

After Su-doku, puzzle lovers have Godoku to grapple with. Su-doku made addicts out of just about everybody - students, housewives and corporate bigwigs. Now, Godoku or Wordoku is on its way. But people who've been juggling numbers ever since Su-doku made its gentle entry into their lives are not sure if its word version will catch their fancy. Su-doku got a big push when newspapers throughout the world started carrying puzzles in their daily editions. Su-doku books climbed to the top of most best-seller lists of 2005. Now some publications in the west have started publishing Godoku. One terms it 'devilish'. To play Godoku or Wordoku, you apply the same logic as in Su-doku.

But instead of the nine numbers, there are nine letters from the alphabet. After the puzzle is cracked, you get a hidden word. Another version is Rudoku, where what's revealed is a rude word! In Bangalore, though words puzzles have their share of fans, Godoku hasn't yet caught on. Says Radhika Mahalingaiah, teacher and avid scrabble and Su-doku player, "There hasn't been much awareness about the word version of Su-doku. I've seen them but they somehow didn't look too exciting. I didn't know about the hidden word; that would make it more interesting." Sanjoy Gupta, advertising and marketing professional, who calls himself a word lover, adds, "I don't think Godoku will attract people like me, who are otherwise into word puzzles

It hasn't got anything to do with words; the letters are just place holders like the numbers in a Su-doku game. Even the word that emerges in the end is secondary in nature, that's not the primary driver for cracking the puzzle. I guess people with a fear of numbers will take to it." Radhika, who works out 4-5 Su-doku games in a day, says puzzles like these are great for people who like brain-teasers. "I noticed in the Times Su-doku championship that many participants were well-educated housewives. A brain-teaser provides them the mental stimulation they require, and a break from daily chores and boring TV,"she remarks.

Some interesting links

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Book Review: The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold, by S Acharya

The combination of the book's title and the Author's name may lead to believe that this book is the result of extreme Indian right wing ideology emanating in a book ? (I have reproduced content from the book in my own words, in this blog)

Wrong. Acharya S is the pen name of D. Murdoch. In this book, she proponents a Christ-myth hypothesis. The premise being that the modern Christianity religion is the result of eons of plagiarism and myth intermittently shrouding each other, originally intended to unify the Roman state and establish the Roman supremacy by uniting people of Europe into a single religion. Especially the fact that the Sun has attracted the attention of mankind from the very beginning of human history. Every religion considers the sun as one of the supreme being either directly or indirectly. And also all regions are influenced by astronomy. Christianity is no different. What does the Sun have to do with Christianity and astronomy ? Here are some reasoning's given here.

1) Jesus Christ was born December 25.. Now from the Northern hemisphere..the sun dies every year and goes South and at the cross of equator or the crossification(crucifixion) of the Sun, the Sun becomes weakened ..and continues sinking to tropic of Capricorn..but it stops going South on Dec 22 and reaches solar standstill and is dead/motionless for 3 days just like Jesus dies for 3 days..and is resurrected/reborn 3 days later on the Dec 25 and starts its journey back to the north..

2) The Resurrection of Jesus/Sun are similar because on the 25th is the first day the Sun moves 1 degree north from 22.5 degrees South...the Sun is reborn and it is a day of rejoicing for people in the North..

3) Great etymology example of which she has so many:helio biblia in Greek means holy bible in English...the "Sun book" has become holy Bible..

4) All religions have their saviors born on Dec 25 Krishna (this one obviously is not a very correct information), Dionysis the Greek god of Wine, Osiris Egypt savior god and Zaruthustra of Zorastriasm Persia all born the 25 of Dec..and Hercules and his 12 labors are associated with the signs of zodiac..

5) Why was Jesus born in a barn in a manger between a horse and a goat? The horse is Sagitarrius and the goat is Capricorn the 2 signs surrounding December 25...

Interesting ? Here are is more. Jesus is not one character but a character drawn from prophets/god-incarnates from various cultures - Horus:Egyptian Sun-god, Dyonsius, Attis, Mithras, including several others; Also Krishna(?) More examples:

1) Horus' earthly father was 'Seb' (Joseph), and was of royal descent; He had 12 disciples; Delivered a "sermon on the mount" to his followers; Was crucified between two robbers, buried in a tomb for 3 days, and resurrected

2) Krishna was a cowherd by profession; Angels in both cases issued a warning that the local dictator planned to kill the baby and had issued a decree for his assassination. The parents fled. Mary and Joseph stayed in Muturea; Krishna's parents stayed in Mathura.

3) (Although I know that Srimad Bhagavatham and Vishnu Puranam do nto say this) Some accounts describe Krishna to be pinned to a tree with arrows and being resurrected later with his mortal remains having vanished.

4) Persian Apostle Mithras had 12 desciples; Virgin birth; Resurrection

Although books like this are bound to be authortative, this book seems to wallow in the same, which lies in its conclusions, which is considered supreme and beyond doubt (No other alternative possible ?) In conclusion, for a light reading, it is good (Do not expect this to change the hardliners' stance on Jesus). The book does gives an interesting reading. It has got to do nothing with my religious beliefs or my orientation. Just that it interests me that there is another angle to all of this.

Here are some links if you are interested

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Some food ingredients

I'm going to dedicate some of my blogs to create a distaste in readers, for all animal products, and food ingredients. Some of the below items, we consume or use in preparation of food without giving a second thought to where they come from. Well, now you will now.

Gelatin—Rhymes with "skeleton." Coincidence? I think not. Gelatin is a protein made by boiling cows’ and pigs’ skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones. Jell-O? Heck, no!

Honey—Sure, honey tastes sweet, but you’ll get a bad taste in your mouth when you learn how it’s "harvested."

From a former beekeeper: "[T]ypically, beekeepers are gloved and netted to avoid stings (nearly every bee who stings will die due to her entrails being pulled from her body attached to her stinger.) Then the hives are opened as quickly as possible and the bees are ‘smoked.’ Smoke from a smoldering fire carried in a ‘smoker’ is pumped into the hive and the bees are ‘calmed.’ In spite of this, the combs are pulled quickly and many bees are crushed in the process. When a bee is hurt, she releases a chemical message that alerts and activates the hive members who proceed to attack the intruder—giving their lives in the process."

Lard—Lard is such a gross word, it almost makes you wonder why they just don’t call it what it is: "Fat from hog abdomens."

Pepsin—If the thought of eating lard turns your stomach, stay away from pepsin, a clotting agent from pigs’ stomachs, used in some cheeses and vitamins.

words just make you cringe, like coagulate, congeal, clot—which is what rennet, an enzyme taken from baby calves’ stomachs, is used for in cheese production.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Google Bombing

Type the words miserable idiot in a google search text box and click on the "I'm feeling lucky "button.You may be surprised to see the whitehouse website with George W Bush's Biography (This is as of today - 14th January 2006). This is not a coincidence, but a practice known as Google-bombing.

My summary of this practice is this.

(I'm not digressing) A Page-rank algorithm is an algorithm that assigns numerical weightings to hyperlinked documents indexed by a search engine (Larry Page is the developer of this algorithm or family of algorithms). This is used by Google (Larry Page is one of the founders of Google).

In layman's terms, a site will be ranked higher if the sites that link to that page all use consistent anchor text. A Google bomb is created if a large number of sites link to the page in this manner. Google bomb is used both as a verb and a noun.

From Wikipedia....

Google has defended its algorithms as simply a reflection of the opinion on the Internet, saying that they are not damaging the overall quality of its services. Google has said it expects Googlebombing to return to obscurity and has dismissed it as "cybergraffiti" and just another internet fad.

On 18 January 2005 the Google blog entry "Preventing comment spam" declared that Google will henceforth respect a rel="nofollow" attribute on hyperlinks. Their page ranking algorithm now avoids links with this attribute when ranking the destination page. The intended result is that site administrators can easily modify user-posted links such that the attribute is present, and thus an attempt to googlebomb by posting a link on such a site would yield no increase from that link rank.

On 16 September 2005 Marissa Mayer, Director of Consumer Web Products for Google wrote an entry on Google Blog to those who were offended by the result of President George W. Bush's biography with the search of "failure", "miserable", and "miserable failure", stating that Google has no control over and does not condone the act of Google bombing. Apparently, people who sent in complaints believed that the search results showed Google's political bias.


This how statistics and correlation works.

Year 1981

1. Prince Charles got married
2. Liverpool crowned Champions of Europe
3. Australia lost the Ashes
4. Pope Died

Year 2005
1. Prince Charles got married
2. Liverpool crowned Champions of Europe
3. Australia lost the Ashes
4. Pope Died

In future, if Prince Charles decides to re-marry and Liverpool wins another European crown.... someone please warn the Australian cricket side and the Pope!

Shivkar Bapuji Talpade

Here is an exerpt from an article that appeared in the Deccan herald
The link to this article (December 16, 2003 - Deccan Herald - Science and Technology)

An excerpt from this article goes like this...

"Hundred years after Orville Wright’s first flight, K R N SWAMY remembers Shivkar Bapuji Talpade, the Indian who flew an unmanned aircraft, eight years before Wright brothers.Orville Wright demonstrated on December 17th 1903 that it was possible for a ‘manned heavier than air machine to fly’. But, in 1895, eight years earlier, the Sanskrit scholar Shivkar Bapuji Talpade had designed a basic aircraft called Marutsakthi (meaning Power of Air) based on Vedic technology and had it take off unmanned before a large audience in the Chowpathy beach of Bombay. The importance of the Wright brothers lies in the fact, that it was a manned flight for a distance of 120 feet and Orville Wright became the first man to fly. But Talpade’s unmanned aircraft flew to a height of 1500 feet before crashing down and the historian Evan Koshtka, has described Talpade as the ‘first creator of an aircraft'....."".....According to Knapp, the Vaimanika Shastra describes in detail, theconstruction of what is called, the mercury vortex engine theforerunner of the ion engines being made today by NASA. Knapp adds that additional information on the mercury engines can be found in the ancient Vedic text called Samaranga Sutradhara....."
".....230 verses, to the use of these machines in peace and war. The Indologist William Clarendon, who has written down a detailed description of the mercury vortex engine in his translation of Samaranga Sutradhara quotes thus ‘Inside the circular air frame, placethe mercury-engine with its solar mercury boiler at the aircraft center. By means of the power latent in the heated mercury which sets the driving whirlwind in motion a man sitting inside may travel a great distance in a most marvellous manner. Four strong mercury containersmust be built into the interior structure. When these have been heated by fire through solar or other sources the vimana (aircraft) develops thunder-power through the mercury..."

Airplane crossing

We have heard of railway crossing in India, or even ship crossing . Have you heard about airplane crossing ? See pictures down where vehicles wait for the airplane to cross a road !@%$

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Extremely good fwd from Ex-SWR from Intel

And then they finally selected...

Phew !

Sunday, January 08, 2006

What is Baidu ?

What is the the fourth most visited site on the internet ?? ((As of December 2005; Google Press)


Here is an extract from Wikipedia. Here is whole the article

Baidu (百度) is a popular Chinese search engine. Its design resembles that of Google and features the capability to search news and images, among other functionalities. Baidu claims itself the biggest search engine in Chinese language. Perhaps the most popular feature about Baidu that Google does not support is the MP3 search. This is very similar with the image search of Google, however, it searches for MP3/WMA/SWF files instead of image files. The MP3 search are mainly used for Chinese Pop Music, and the search results are surprisingly accurate. Though it's illegal in most of the world, Baidu can do this as the Chinese law doesn't prohibit putting music on the internet, and Baidu is under Chinese law. had its initial public offering (IPO) the morning of Friday, Aug 5, 2005. opened at $27/share. At the close of Nasdaq trading on that Friday, shares closed at $122.54, up $95.54 from its opening price (a gain of 353%). However, over the next few trading days, Baidu stock pulled back rapidly, closing at $91.75 on August 10. is often called the "Google of China" due to its resemblance and similarity to Google. In fact, Google owns 2.6% of the company.

On September 14, 2005, the stock plunged 24% on the Nasdaq after two analysts said it was "overpriced."

An advanced weather forecast set up

A simple life

Thought for the day

Friday, January 06, 2006

British, U.S. spying draws us closer to Orwell's Big Brother

Here is an article from my current organization's CEO. It was highly amusing to read this amidst local news on "journalistic spying"(I would call that) in our country.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Optical Illusion

This is an example of an amazing illusion!!!

If your eyes follow the movement of the rotating pink dot, you will only see one color, pink.
However. if you stare at the black "+" in the center, the moving dot turns to green.

Now, concentrate on the black "+" in the center of the picture (don't blink or look at the dots) .
After a short period, all the pink dots will slowly disappear, and you will only see a green dot rotating. It's amazing how our brain works. There really is no green dot, and the pink ones really don't disappear.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Paleocontact and Ancient Astronaut Theory

An extract from Wikipedia....

Paleocontact theory
is a term used to describe the hypothesis that intelligent extraterrestrial creatures visited Earth in the distant past or at the dawn of human civilization. Carl Sagan, I.S. Shklovskii, and Hermann Oberth are three notable scientists who have seriously considered the possibility of extraterrestial visitations in Earth's past.

Ancient astronaut theory is a term used to describe the theories of ancient extraterrestrial contact being involved in some way with the origin or development of human culture.
Most notably popularized by authors such as Erich von Däniken and Zecharia Sitchin, this theory is an expansion or elaboration of the more basic Paleocontact theory.

These theories often claim that human beings are either the descendants or creations of aliens who landed on Earth millennia ago — ideas that are commonly dismissed by the scientific community. Another element of this view is the suggestion that much of human wisdom or religion was given to man by extraterrestrial visitors in ancient times. This possibility has
been considered by some scientists, including Carl Sagan and I.S. Shklovskii, but the lack of hard evidence and the nature of the concept makes it unpopular among the scientific community.

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Rule of 72 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Rule of 72

In finance, the rule of 72, the rule of 70 and the rule of 69.3 all refer to essentially the same method for estimating doubling times for exponential growth or halving times for exponential decay. If you divide the number given by the expected growth rate, expressed as a percentage, the answer is approximately the number of periods to double the original quantity. For instance, if you were to invest $100 at 9% per annum, then your investment would be worth $200 after 8.0432 years, using an exact calculation. The rule of 72 gives 72/9=8 years, which is close to the exact answer. See time value of money. The same applies to exponential decay. Thus to determine the time it takes for the value of money to halve due to a given inflation rate, financiers simply take the current inflation rate (approx 3.5%) and divide 70 by that number. Thus, 70/3.5 would give 20. This means that at 3.5% inflation it should take 20 years for the value of a dollar to halve.

The number 72 is a better approximation for annual interest compounding at typical rates. For continuous compounding ln (2), which is about 69.3%, will give accurate results for any rate. Daily compounding is close enough to continuous compounding for most purposes, so 69.3 or 70 should be used. The value 72 is also a convenient choice since it has so many small divisors: 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, and 12.

For very small rates, 69.3 would be more accurate than 72. For higher rates, a bigger numerator would be better (e.g. for 20%, using 76 to get 3.8 years would be more accurate than 3.6). 72 is a reasonable approximation across this range and is easily divisible by many numbers. The rule of 72 is only an approximation that is accurate for a range of interest rate (from 6% to 10%). Outside that range the error will vary from 2.4% to -14.0%. It turns out that for every three percentage points away from 8% the value 72 could be adjusted by 1.

Inspiration for the name

I first read Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca when I was a teenager. I enjoyed it hugely, I found it an exhilarating read.

Rebecca is a novel of power and atmosphere. It is about obsession. It is about evil and its power and about the influence and hold of the past over us in the present. Rebecca makes its impact with the opening chapter when, in a dream, the young Mrs de Winter re-visits the house called Manderley, years after it has been emptied after the great fire. Manderley has been taken over by nature, gone back to nature. The grounds are overgrown, the terrifying, giant wild rhododendrons have crept over the pathway. I was smitten.

And when I went to college, I made this my first internet pseudonym on Yahoo! and hotmail. Funny, but the first time I created ids on both, I forgot the second phrasing of "do" and kept on using it until someone on chat asked me what happened to the other "do" (The id was Rhodendrons). Stupidity exposed, I had to correct that.

On Rhododendrons

Rhododendron (from the Greek: rhodos, "rose"; dendron, "tree") is a genus of flowering plants in the family Ericaceae. It is a large genus with over 600 species. They may be either evergreen or deciduous, and most have showy flower displays. It includes the plants known to gardeners as azalea.

The Rhododendron is the national flower of Nepal. It is also the state flower of the US states of Washington and West Virginia, and the state of Sikkim in India.