Brazil and Open-Source

eWeek writes:

If he is to make good on his promise to improve life for the tens of millions of Brazilians who live in dire poverty, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva knows that one key challenge is to bridge a massive technology gap. And if that means shunning Microsoft Corp. software in South America’s largest country, then so be it.

Silva’s top technology officer wants to transform the land of samba and Carnival into a tech-savvy nation where everyone from schoolchildren to government bureaucrats uses open-source software instead of costly Windows products.

Such a policy makes eminent sense for a developing country where a mere 10 percent of the 170 million people have computers at home and where the debt-laden government is the nation’s biggest computer buyer, says Sergio Amadeu, the open-source enthusiast appointed to head Brazil’s National Information Techonology Institute by Silva after the president took office this year.

Paying software licensing fees to companies like Microsoft is simply “unsustainable economically” when applications that run on the open-source Linux operating system are much cheaper, Amadeu said. Under his guidance, Silva’s administration is encouraging all sectors of government to move toward open-source programs, whose basic code is public and freely available.

“We have some islands in the federal government using open-source, but we want to create a continent,” said Amadeu.

Intel’s Strategic Shift

WSJ writes about Intel’s change of strategy – from faster chips to chips that fit the new ways people actually use their computers:

That bet is beginning to pay off, helping Intel become one of the biggest winners to emerge from the long tech slump. In the new world of digital wireless gadgets, computer users care about other things besides speed — such as long battery life and small size. Intel has reorganized the company to deliver chips that offer just that.

Intel got a big boost from one of the first fruits of its new strategy: the Pentium M, a specially designed microprocessor for laptop computers. It’s no speed demon, but it gobbles a lot less power than typical chips, giving portable computers a couple extra hours of battery life, and its small size makes it inexpensive to manufacture. Aided by the new product, Intel’s gross profit on chips for notebook systems is about 75% of sales, 10 points higher than its margins on desktop PCs, estimates UBS Securities analyst Thomas Thornhill.

Intel is whipping up demand with a huge advertising blitz for a combination of chips called Centrino, which includes the Pentium M plus wireless networking and other accessory chips.

Intel’s strategies go beyond portable computers. Power-saving features such as those on the Pentium M, for example, could help reduce electrical bills for companies that buy hundreds of servers that use Intel chips. “We are as obsessed now about power consumption as we are about performance,” says Sean Maloney, an Intel executive vice president and general manager of its communications group.

Intel also is looking for other places to use Centrino-style chip combinations, says Mr. Otellini. For example, Intel may incorporate Wi-Fi and data-compression technology into chips for PCs and other home gadgets, to make it easier to beam digitized music, photos and videos to stereos and televisions.

Intel has other big weapons. The massive factories that a year ago looked like costly mistakes are close to ready, just as PC demand is rebounding. Early next year, Intel will start churning out chips with transistors that are just 90 nanometers across — about one-thousandth the width of a human hair — while most rivals are still gearing up 130-nanometer production. The new technology will turn out chips that are faster, less expensive and use less power.

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NYTimes writes an idea that eBay’s founder Pierre Omidyar likes:

“I’ve always believed that helping people connect around a shared passion is good for business and good for the community,” Mr. Omidyar said in a telephone interview last week from his home in Las Vegas. “The early eBay users saw the trade as just an excuse to get to know other people who shared their passions about collecting.”

Like eBay, Meetup is turning out to be a bigger idea than it may have appeared at first. The concept is to use the Internet to set up face-to-face meetings among people of like interests, rather than the pseudonymous message boards that are considered communities on the Internet.

This seems like a good activity for the Tech 7-11s to do with SMEs in the neighbourhood.

Macromedia Flex

Anil Dash points to the blog by Christophe Coenraets: “Flex consists of a presentation server installed on top of a J2EE application server or servlet container, a rich library of user interface components, an XML-based markup language used to declaratively lay out these components, and an object-oriented programming language to handle the user interactions with the application. The end result is a Rich Internet Application (RIA) rendered using Flash Player and developed using industry standards and a development paradigm familiar to developers…The basic idea is that Flex addresses the well known limitations of HTML in terms of providing interactive user interfaces and smart client-side data manipulation.”

Could Flex be the platform for rich internet applications?

Blogs in the Enterprise

Michael Angeles has an excellent graphic analysing people and their relationships to content. It “illustrates how employee data (HR data) can be leveraged to connect people to various types of interests, publications, etc. on the intranet. This rough, generalized illustration suggests the types of data used to associate people with people, with content, etc. Its a way to leverage peoples interests and expertise to create communities of practice around topics, projects, products, customers, etc.”

Actioning Innovation

Optimize has an article by Thomas Davenport and H. James Wilson on ensuring that innovative ideas get implemented. The article discusses:
– Idea identification
– Packaging the idea
– Advocating the idea
– Make it happen
– Take the idea outside

Internet in China

WSJ writes about the expanding user base in China:

Internet use is spreading farther than expected in China, reaching smaller, less-developed cities, and would likely be even more popular if not for government controls, according to two surveys.

The surveys, conducted by the government-backed Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, are the most extensive on Internet use in China to date. Researchers interviewed 4,100 people in 12 cities, from the major urban centers on the prosperous coast to interior towns where economic growth has lagged behind. The surveys show that Internet penetration is on average highest in the metropolises of Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou — where one-third of all residents use the Internet — but small cities of around 100,000 in population ranked a surprising second, with 27% of residents going online. That percentage surpasses the 24% rate in four leading industrial provincial capitals, according to the surveys.

Underpinning the growth in small cities is an array of factors, including government policies and free-market competition to provide Internet services, says one of the surveys, on small cities. In Yima, a city in hilly, rural Henan province, for example, a mining company vied with the local subsidiary of China’s telecommunications authority to offer Internet services starting in the late 1990s. The result was low-cost Internet connections and a surge in Internet cafes — 60 of them by early 2002 — for a city of 120,000 where incomes average $500 a year and many residents can’t afford a home computer.

Some key numbers:

Total users: 68 million
Profile: 56% male; 58.2% between ages 17 and 24
Income: 39.2% have no monthly income
Activities: 57% go online to read news
Location: 62.8% log on from home, for an average 5.35 hours a week

Growth in India is still hobbled by expensive connectivity and PCs, compounded with limited local language content.

TECH TALK: An Entrepreneurs Attributes: Deciding Just Do It

This is not as easy as it sounds. An entrepreneur is always in doubt is this the right thing to do, can there be alternate paths, will this lead in the direction of where one intends to go. At the same time, thinking for too long is also a problem because it can lead to a paralysis of action. The entrepreneur needs to be move and be able to self-correct if the action doesnt seem right.

Those working with the entrepreneur may find a confused mind. That is not the case. It is just that an entrepreneurs mind works faster than things can be done. As a result, even as actions are being done, there is fine-tuning taking place. The thinking is happening online. For those not used to a dynamic environment of action, this can be quite disconcerting!

I have gone through all kinds of phases in my life times when I have just not been able to act because of a fear of being wrong, and times when I have acted too quickly, almost recklessly. In the first case, one gets caught deeper in deeper in the quicksand of thought like being in an infinite programming loop. One would like to consider every possible scenario, but the information just isnt enough. The decision has to be made, but the entrepreneur waits, and waits hoping for that elusive hand of God which will point the way. The only way out is to make a decision. This simple action can be the hardest thing to do when one is in this phase.

In the second case, if one hasnt analysed the scenarios, then the situation can be worsened by the actions of the entrepreneur. I have made statements or done things which I have regretted almost immediately. At times like these, there is little other than damage control that one can do. The entrepreneur must put it down to learning and move on. There is a need to evaluate what went wrong and try and institute corrective measures to prevent a recurrence. But at no point should one lose hope. As long as one learns, one will come out ahead in the long-term.

Thus, there is a fine line between inaction and rapid action. There is no easy way to come out with the perfect decision-making approach. The key is to think enough, but not too much. All the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle will never be available, so the entrepreneur has to learn to arrange what is there, all the time imagining what the big picture looks like. In many ways, this is one of the hidden joys of being an entrepreneur. It is like a real-life simulation game, except that there is no Undo button. The actions and decisions one takes are irreversible; life and business only move forward. There is no action replay. Decision-making is an art and one that an entrepreneur should do well to master.

Tomorrow: Problem Solving

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