South Korea to move to Linux

In a remarkable decision which could have far-reaching implications, South Korea has “has announced a plan to have proprietary software on a substantial number of its PCs and servers replaced with open source alternatives by 2007”, according to Silicon.com .

Thousands of computers in ministries, government-linked organisations and universities in South Korea will replace the Microsoft Windows operating system and Office productivity suite with open source alternatives under the plan, according to the country’s Ministry of Information and Communication.

Twenty percent of desktop software and 30 percent of server software will be changed to open source by 2007, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Information and Communication said.

“If the change is successful, we will be able to save about US$300m a year. Also, we may ensure security and inter-connectivity of national information system,” the spokesperson continued.

And India continues to sleep. India has the opportunity to take leadership on the open-source front, and we do nothing.

Slowread

Raj Karamchedu wrote to me about his Slowread. Its a nice collection of briefs releated to Indian entrepreneurship and development. Would be nice if (a) it had an RSS feed (b) it could be made more blog-like with daily updates (a week seems too long to wait).

Voice-over-WiFi

[via Jayesh Matani] Seattle Post-Intelligencer writes:

On a recent business trip to Hong Kong, Raju Gulabani didn’t pay a dime for his international phone calls.

Connected to a Wi-Fi network in his hotel and using an iPaq personal digital assistant, the 45-year-old former Microsoft manager routinely dialed his family and business associates in the Seattle area.

Gulabani, the founder and chief executive of TeleSym, was not part of some international phone calling scam. He was simply using his company’s new software, which allows users of laptops, PDAs and other devices to bypass the traditional phone network and make calls over wireless Internet networks.

With a high-quality sound and a cheap price, Gulabani thinks the SymPhone software will transform the way phone calls are made. Some big name investors tend to agree…Gulabani believes the real killer application is voice over Wi-Fi.

Nokia’s N-Gage

WSJ writes that the gaming device (which is also a cellphone) from Nokia scheduled for release next week may become a surprise hit:

Nokia’s clout has attracted retailers, game-review Web sites and the world’s top game developers. Now, critics say that when the N-Gage launches on Tuesday, it could be a surprise hit, thanks to Nokia’s clever use of networking technology to encourage competition between gamers.

“If Nokia can get a number of good titles out there, particularly ones that capitalize on the communications features of the product, then they have a good opportunity,” says Ken Hyers, a senior games analyst with U.S.-based research firm In-Stat/MDR. The launch will be closely watched. Nokia has just unveiled a reorganization designed to give investors better insight into its investments in new products, like the N-Gage, and how they fare compared with the core business of making mobile phones.

The new cellphone plays games stored on memory cards, which are sold and packaged much like the game cartridges developed for Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance console. Unlike the Advance, it has Bluetooth wireless technology that allows multiple players to compete in real-time within 10 meters of one another. And players can use telecommunications networks to upload their best moves and top performances onto a Web site for friends to view, then download and play against. Nearly all the new games take advantage of the N-Gage’s networking capabilities.

[What could] help the N-Gage succeed — is the use of networking technology to enhance competition. There’s too much lag time on GPRS cellular networks for real-time multiplayer gaming, so N-Gage users won’t be able to play each other across town. But if they’re within about 10 meters of one another, they will be able to do it by using Bluetooth.

Social Networks

David Kirkpatrick (Fortune) writes:

In the free-ranging world of the Internet, the ties created by social-networking sites have people excited. Some are calling it a social revolution. Much of the talk has focused on how well sites like Friendster aid dating. But social networking can be used for lots of other things–for example, at a later stage in life, finding a babysitter. You might find someone to play tennis with, or someone who likes the same kind of music you do and can suggest new artists. And if the best jobs come through connections, what better way to find work than through a giant online social network? In San Francisco, where unemployment is rampant and social networking is nearly an obsession for just about everyone under 35, it seems everybody looking for a job is using sites like Friendster, Linkedin, Tribe.net, or Ryze, all of which allow you to join only if you invite friends to join with you, or if you are yourself an invitee.

The phenomenon may be seen as offering people tools analogous to the most powerful ones being used in business. Writes Yong Su Kim, who maintains a blog on software trends at YSK.com: “It’s almost like the CRM and ERP of peoples’ professional and personal lives. Social-networking software is designed to help people look for new relationships (acquire customers), maximize existing relationships (sell to the installed base), and optimize their social interactions (order management, manufacturing, supply chain, and distribution).”

There may be a new kind of Internet emerging–one more about connecting people to people than people to websites. The blog phenomenon, where blogs link to blogs, is another aspect of this same trend. Mark Pincus, an investor in Friendster and founder of Tribe.net, calls this the early phases of the “peopleweb”–a user-controlled network of identities and relationships that transcends any one site or company. How that web will take shape remains murky, but in the explosive growth of social networking we are surely seeing the future, using the Net to connect people with bonds of trust and friendship–and maybe sex.

Shrinkwrap Software

David Stutz writes an insightful article about the way software really is:

The right way to view software is as pliable building material, rather than as finished product.

Because of this, Doc Searls’ metaphor of the software industry as the construction industry is nearly perfect: those who build and maintain software are like the millions of architects, builders, and contractors who help us maintain and preserve our homes, businesses, and public places in the face of dryrot, hurricanes, vandals, changing family sizes, and all of the other forces that conspire to ruin them. The guild of craftsmen who join software to service, software to device, and software to other software are not factory workers cranking out uniform widgets. They are journeyman integrators who create vernacular items matched to quotidian requirements. Of course there is a mass market, but mass market software, like any other prefab item, is destined to be far less than perfect.

I think we will continue to see a mix of both – shrinkwrap software and software-as-service. Reliable anc cost-effective bandwidth in emerging markets is still a challenge, so not all software can be delivered like a utility. One difference which I can see is that to make computing affordable for more users, it may be better to run the software on a centralised server, rather than all the individual desktops. This can can the ownership costs and maintenance hassles of the client computers.

Social Force in Elevators

Jason Kottke tells an interesting story about something we have probably replayed many times:

I stand alone in the elevator, right in the middle, equidistant from the four walls. Before the doors close, a woman enters. Unconsciously, I move over to make room for her. We stand side by side with equal amounts of space between the two of us and between each of us and the walls of the elevator. On the 12th floor, a man gets on and the woman and I slide slightly to the side and to the back, maximizing the space that each of us occupies in the elevator. At the 14th floor, another man gets on. The man in front steps to the back center and the woman and I move slightly toward the front, forming a diamond shape that again maximizes each person’s distance from the elevator walls and the people next to them.
It reminds me of cell division in an embryo or the arrangement of atoms in a molecule. Just as the cells and atoms know how to position themselves for maximum efficiency at a minimum size, humans know how to balance the need to collectively occupy an enclosed area and give each person his/her own space.

So very true!

TECH TALK: An Entrepreneurs Early Days (Part 4)

Childhood

We all have mostly pleasant memories of our childhood. These memories may be few and far between, but they flash by us once in a while. It could be the school we want to, the first friend that we made, the first train journey that we remember, the first toys that we played with. We may forget much of our later life, but there are those few early memories that we never will.

For the entrepreneur, the childhood has its own joy of discovery of freedom, of finding new things, of doing things on ones own, of the early successes. There is an immense sense of fulfillment when things start falling into place slowly, but surely. This is a world in which the entrepreneur now seeks to make connections, reach out and touch others. Everything around may be the same, but yet things look and feel quite different.

The entrepreneur now needs to start putting a team together, along with raising capital (either from family and friends, or from angels and venture capitalists). Each day is now full of life. There just arent enough hours to do all that needs to be done. Every morning brings with it a fresh ray of hope. Every night is at the end of either a satisfying days of work or one which has been depressing for a variety of reasons. Either way, a good nights sleep puts a full stop and the morning brings with it its own new event stream. Each day is an experience which enriches, each night etches these experiences into memory. Whatever happened the previous day, the only certainty is that this new day will be unlike any that has gone by previously.

Each day of childhood has to be lived through. Life cannot be fast-forwarded. The same is true for an entrepreneur. The new business has to be built day by day, customer by customer, rupee by rupee. There are no magic wands. And in many ways, this is the real life of the entrepreneur challenge and struggle, success and failure, laced together.

It is often said that ones best friends are made in school. It may be no different for the entrepreneur. One always remembers the people who stood by one at the early, difficult times. The first employee who joined wishing upon a star, the first customer who showed faith, the first cheque they are the encouragement and endorsements that the entrepreneur needs along the way. They each have their special place in the history of the business the entrepreneur is building.

I still remember the day we launched IndiaWorld, the first two customers we got for our home pages, and the first large order we got for a website (I was on a bus back from Nasik on a suspenseful trip in the pre-cellphone era). Even today, the many meetings I had in the early days to try and get content partnerships are still quite fresh. Much of the period since then is a blur, but those few memories are forever etched away.

Tomorrow: An Entrepreneurs Early Days (continued)

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