Cellphones and Gaming

Wired News writes about the new generation of cellphones which are now being equipped with video games.

Games have become an integral part of mobile culture. Those games, though, will soon be supercharged. On the opening day of the Austin Game Conference, a two-day confab of online game developers, discussions turned to the new spate of handheld devices that combine mobile gaming and cell phone capabilities that will enable people to play full-color, three-dimensional, multiplayer games over cell phone networks.

the next generation of mobile games will have to provide people with the ability to not only stay connected with their friends, but also interact with their virtual worlds.

That is the brave, new world of mobile culture. “The phone is morphing into something new, ” said Eric Goldberg, managing director of Crossover Technologies. “It’s quickly becoming a lifestyle device.”

Nokia’s foray into this space is N-Gage, which releases on October 7. It is “equal parts cell phone, MP3 player and game device…The device lets users connect with Nokia’s Arena network, a centralized database that will eventually allow N-Gage players anywhere in the world to compete against each other.”

Browser Patents

Recently, Microsoft lost a case involving a browser patent infringment to Eolas, with the court asking Microsoft to pay USD 521 million. Says News.com: “The technology in question is one of the fundamental elements of Web browsing. Applets and plug-ins allow Web surfers to view multimedia or real-time content within a Web browser rather than a separate software application. Features such as movie clips, streaming audio, and live stock quotes can be embedded into a Web page and served to consumers.”

Now, Ray Ozzie takes a closer look at the patent and shows how there was prior art in Lotus Notes 3. Makes for fascinating reading.

Skype

Skype is creating a lot of buzz – it is P2P telephony to allow users to make free phone calls. From their site:

– Free unlimited worldwide phone calls to other Skype users
– Superior sound quality – better than your regular phone
– Works with all firewall, NAT and routers nothing to configure!
– Friends list shows you when your Skype friends are online and ready to talk or chat
– Super-simple and easy to use
– Your calls are encrypted end-to-end for superior privacy
– Based on cutting edge peer-to-peer technology developed by the creators of Kazaa and Joltid

Writes Robin Good: “Available in English, Swedish and Estonian, Skype is new free live P2P audioconferencing tool for people using Windows XP and Windows 2000…Skype is a very effective and well designed professional VoIP tool and I can safely assure that if you try it out for yourself you will not be disappointed. Skype allows VoIP under the very worst adverse conditions including users behind firewalls and NATs which have always had difficulties in properly communicating with other communication and conferencing tools.”

Need to try this out!

Open Source for Developing World

Dan Gillmor, after a trip to South Africa, says using open-source software is a no-brainer for the developing countries.

In Africa, in Asia, in much of the world — especially in the developing nations — open source is looking like the best way to usher in the information age. Money, flexibility and plain old independence from a monopolist’s clutches are a powerful combination.

Around the globe, educators, companies and governments are getting tired of paying the Microsoft tax, which tends to rise inexorably, and sending the money to America. They don’t like the upgrade cycle, especially when older computers run Linux just fine. They want to inspire more software innovation at home, and suspect Linux may be the best platform in a world where Microsoft also takes most of the profits in Windows application software.

With open source software — sometimes called “free software” — the source code, or programming instructions, is open for free downloading, inspection and modification by anyone. The GNU/Linux operating system is the best-known project in the genre, but much of the core software used in the Internet today is also open source.

In Africa, in Asia, in much of the world — especially in the developing nations — open source is looking like the best way to usher in the information age. Money, flexibility and plain old independence from a monopolist’s clutches are a powerful combination.

Around the globe, educators, companies and governments are getting tired of paying the Microsoft tax, which tends to rise inexorably, and sending the money to America. They don’t like the upgrade cycle, especially when older computers run Linux just fine. They want to inspire more software innovation at home, and suspect Linux may be the best platform in a world where Microsoft also takes most of the profits in Windows application software.

With open source software — sometimes called “free software” — the source code, or programming instructions, is open for free downloading, inspection and modification by anyone. The GNU/Linux operating system is the best-known project in the genre, but much of the core software used in the Internet today is also open source.

IT Matters

Prabhakar Deshpande (Economic Times) writes about Nicholas Carr’s article in HBR on “IT Doesn’t Matter”. I had written about this earlier. He quotes me: “Some point to the inapplicability of Carrs reasoning to Indian environment. Rajesh Jain, managing director, Netcore Solutions, says that the argument may have certain degree of validity in United States where IT spending jumped massively during the dotcom era, without consideration of return on investments. However in India, almost 99% of corporates have still to deploy IT to sufficient levels to warrant any downward correction.”

Carrs’ advice to Indian companies: “ET contacted Nicholas Carr for his comments on what the Indian industry felt. Carr agreed with Jain that his arguments did not apply to India. However, he offered that Indian companies may want to reduce IT spending by commoditising and purchasing low cost generic hardware and low priced open source software solutions. While agreeing that it is how companies utilise IT that is key to their strategic success, he points out that the crux of his argument is that companies should shift their approach to buying and using IT and avoid overspending. They should focus on cost control and risk management rather than pursue aggressive strategy of innovation and investment, which rarely pay off. While IT wont provide strategic advantage, it can certainly put a company at a cost disadvantage if used unwisely.”

3D File Manager

Slashdot points to the results of the NSF’s Science and Engineering Visualisation Challenge, in which the first prize in the Illustrations category has been claimed by the Innolab 3D File Manager, which was developed on Linux. Writes the magazine:

This Ferris wheel-like arrangement may be the next elegant solution for managing unwieldy amounts of information.

The three-dimensional interface organizes computer contents by their relationships rather than their physical position on a hard drive. Each spider-web thread marks the ties between folders holding contents related to the open file folder (in the center in purple). Colors show how the other folders are related: The red folder is the parent one, blue folders are subdirectories, and the yellow and gray folders are located elsewhere but relate somehow to the central folder.

The program displays relationships that would not be clear in a normal two-dimensional file tree, says Adam Miezianko, who created it with three fellow seniors at Boston University in Massachusetts. Miezianko says the system, built with OpenGL on a Linux platform, could be applied to any sort of hierarchical database, from corporate organizational charts to genetic or ecosystems data. The software could find, for example, all far-flung files containing data on mammals that live in tree canopies. The user can rotate, zoom into, pan across, and spin the three-dimensional file tree to see all possible links with varying criteria.

The screen snapshot the team submitted from the program is “visually striking,” says panel of judges member Boyce Rensberger. “It’s a good example of a way of organizing somewhat abstract information into categories, things that are normally not visual … showing degrees of relationship.”

While the concept is interesting, one look at the ferris wheel makes me wonder how I will find files there!

TECH TALK: Next Billion: Innovations Needed

To reach the next billion users in homes and small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the worlds emerging markets, the computer industry needs to innovate. The target market is large consisting of 4 billion people, and according to a Financial Times report, 600,000 mid-sized businesses and 76 million small businesses globally. Just the SME market is worth about USD 140 billion in technology spending. What has gotten us here to the first 500 million users will not necessarily take us ahead to the next billion.

Even as countries like the US see huge benefits from IT, users across the technological chasm still languish unable to afford the solutions that they so desperately need. In an ideal world, technology would be priced based on the purchasing power of the users, but that is not the case. In fact, in countries like India, due to the tariffs imposed by the governments, there is a likelihood of the prices being even higher in dollar terms! The result is non-consumption of hardware, and piracy of software.

The need is for disruptive innovations which become the bridges to cross the digital divide that is pervasive in the developing countries of the world. This collection of innovations can bring about huge change and the creation of markets which today are invisible.

1. All-In-One Server-Software Solution

SMEs need a simplified IT architecture because they do not have the trained technical staff to manage the complexities of todays computers and networks. What they need is a single server which runs all the software they need right from messaging and security, desktop computing applications, information management and the business applications. To support homes, the server can be connected over Ethernet, fibre, cable or DSL to the thin clients.

Imagine a server that can run Linux and Windows simultaneously, to support applications which require either of the two operating systems. What is needed to make this happen is a clone of two software solutions which exist VMWare, which creates virtual machines on a computer, and Windows and Linux Terminal Services. In the case of Linux, the solution already exists in the form of the Linux Terminal Server Project. This way, the desktops can be thin clients with all the processing and storage happening on the server.

Think of the server as software-in-a-box. It should be an appliance, which comes with the appropriate software pre-installed. Updates can be done via the Internet. Management of the server can be outsourced, and can be done remotely. In addition, all storage happens on the server, thus simplifying backup and restore procedures.

In many ways, the server-software solution can be thought of as an example of grid computing only, the grid is distributed. Each server becomes like a junction box, present on the premises of the enterprise or in a residential neighbourhood. By centralizing processing and storage, technology becomes much more affordable. At the same time, we are leveraging the relentless progress in technology capabilities the ever-increasing processing power in chips and the growing disk storage capabilities.

Tomorrow: Innovations Needed (continued)

Continue reading