Daily Tsunamis

Atanu Dey writes about the “silent emergency” in which tens of thousands die everyday:

Yesterday 55,000 children died premature deaths, a few hundred million people didn’t have adequate housing, hundreds of millions were hungry. About half of all children in South Asia are malnourished. Poverty, a clear cause of malnourishment, is a also a consequence. It is a Silent Emergency.

We are a strange lot. We get on with our lives as if nothing is the matter with the world, when 10 million children die needlessly every year.

The advanced industrialized economies (the so-called “developed nations”) spend hundreds of billions of dollars bombing and killing hundreds of thousands–and spending trillions of dollars in arming themselves to the teeth–and noone bats an eyelid. It is a man-made calamity of global proportions. Then one Sunday morning, a natural event wipes out a few thousand people–almost a rounding-off error to the numbers invovled in the man-made calamity and everyone and his brother wakes up and runs around as if the sky is falling.

Why? Bounded rationality? Or as I see it, unbounded stupidity. Fifty-thousand dying each and every day is not news. Being essentially innumerates, we do not find statistics very useful. What we need is pictures of great devastation for entertainment and distraction. The pictures of tsunami-ravaged coastlines compel our attention unlike the numbers we read in the annual reports of global institutions such as the World Bank.


Adam Rifkin writes about the evolution in the software industry “from desktop applications running on single-machines that helped individuals with productivity through word processing and spreadsheets and email, to enterprise applications in corporate data centers that helped workgroups and companies with productivity through automating business processes… and now to collaborative applications available to anyone from anywhere on the Internet, leveraging an increasingly-connected and ever-faster world. The web is the platform that subsumes the others…The software platform of choice evolved from desktop operating systems, to enterprise operating systems, to what Tim O’Reilly calls the emergent Internet operating system.”

Glues for Ubiquitous Computing

Smart Mobs points to an article on Anti-Mega:

It seems to me that there are primarily 3 kinds of glue, depending on where they get their information from, and what they transform it into. All 3 are important, and needed for ubicomp.

physical to digital glue (‘inputs’):
CD ripper
DVD rippers
digital cameras

digital to physical glue (‘outputs’):
Airport Express
video senders

digital to digital glue:
web servers
UNIX-style pipes

Physical to physical glue is mainly cabling, or dual deck cassette recorders, and gradually dying out.

The biggest piece of glue has to be the Internet substrata on which pretty much everything else relies. This has been ubiquitised by wifi and mobile phones.

Enterprise RSS

MoonWatcher has a couple posts [1 2] discussing the trends:

2004 has been a big year for RSS and has seen this kind of ad-hoc information networking develop in the wild, fueled by the availability of aggregators like NewsGator, Bloglines, and NetNewsWire, publishing platforms like Movable Type, Blogger, and MSN Spaces, and feed search engines like Technorati, Feedster, and PubSub, plus the emergence of super-infomediaries like Robert Scoble and the widespread adoption of RSS itself.

The harder it is right now for people to accomplish their task of communicatingof routing informationthe more improvement Enterprise RSS has to offer. Given that much of the information that will flow through an Enterprise RSS system is informal nuggets of informationnot a white paper, but a pointer to an article; not a marketing campaign, but a note about a product incompatibilitymuch of the value of Enterprise RSS will be in replacing informal communication channels, that is, “watercooler talk” and information usually gleaned by “walking the factory floor”.

The people for whom these channels have ceased to exist are mobile, remote, and distrbuted. Many of them only come to corporate HQ once a quarter, and ravenously eat up all the tidbits of information they can scrounge. They’re the last to know about just about everything. But they’re the ones in front of the customers, and in the middle of the revenue stream: sales, professional services, and field support.

Aside from field sales reps and consultants, many workers work in remote or home offices and are similarly disconnected from HQ. Enterprise RSS can help integrate these people back into the information fabric of a company.

Qualcomm, China and WiMax

Unwired has an interview with Dave Mock. Excerpts:

Q: What are your predictions about Qualcomm and China? China has been testing the two leading 3G technologies along with a homegrown technology. Any thoughts on how it will all play out?
A: I think China will push TD-SCDMA into the market somehow, with the principle purpose of leveraging a bigger role in the industry. Whether it is successful or not probably doesnt matter as much as what it buys them. I think arguments of Qualcomms assertion of IPR in the standard are moot, as I dont see it as a significant driver of royalty for them. However it plays out, CDMA and WCDMA should still develop a significant presence.

Q: Speaking of Wi-Fi, do you think that Wi-Fi-enabled handsets will hurt the success of EV-DO and other 3G technologies, or increase usage of these networks (or both)?
A: I think Wi-Fi is shaping up to be a serious threat, and this is no surprise to anyone in Qualcomm. But I think it hurts Qualcomm less than the operators, who will lose control of the channel. Regional (and municipal) Wi-Fi deployments have the biggest chance of limiting the uptake of EV-DO, and pressuring service prices. Actually, Wi-Fi itself is not the true threat its the aggregation of hotspots and roaming agreements for WLANs that potentially could cut out EV-DO. But so far these efforts have failed.

Q: Should Qualcomm be frightened by WiMAX? And do you think the vendor will ultimately support WiMAX?
A: Qualcomm should be concerned about WiMAX and anything like it and they are. The standard itself will likely be stalled to no end as it is too broad right now, but some significant decisions will be made in 2005 that could put it on the fast track or send it out to be shot. Intels weight shouldnt be underestimated here, and I think theyll be successful in getting many in the industry to adopt the standard if it comes through in marketable form.

TECH TALK: Best of Tech Talk 2004: Entrepreneurship

I have been an entrepreneur now for over twelve years in India. This period has seen many ups and downs, and successes and failures. What is still alive for me is the passion to make a difference, to build tomorrows world. I have used many of my Tech Talk columns to share my experiences and learnings.

The Company (May 2004): If there is one thing common to most of us, it is that we are part of a Company. Be it a startup or an established one, be it small or big, be it a local one or a global multinational, the Company is where we spend the better part of our adult lives. It is the mechanism through which we effect change (or get changed), where we build relationships (friends and business), and through which we generate income. The Company is a unique institution that binds us all together In my first Company, the goal was to prove that I could build and manage a successful business. In my second Company, the goal is bigger and bolder I want to build something that will last and make a difference, and to do well and do good. Perhaps, they are all the same. Only time will tell. For me, the Company is an all-consuming love affair. It is an instrument of innovation, of bringing forth new ideas and revolutions into the world.

Crucicle Experiences (May 2004): A crucible experience [is] something which transforms us, and shakes and shapes our lives. We have all gone through these experiences in our life some of these experiences last a short time, others much longer. Either way, they help change us in some way. More often than not, these are intense and deeply personal experiences, which we would rather not talk about. Even thinking about these experiences makes us want to purge them from our memories. But whatever happens, they leave an indelible mark on us for the rest of our life As I think back on my life, there are at least three experiences which I can think helped change me. One was a brief incident at school, the second was my first semester at IIT, and the third was a two-year period of business failure after my return to India in 1992. Each incident, in its own way, made an impact. While time can diminish memories of the period, it cannot take away the reality of the occurrence.

A Tale of Two Summers (Aug 2004): My thinking this summer was very similar to what I had been thinking in 1994, when I wanted a new way to reach Indians worldwide. Then, I used the Internet as a distribution platform. Now, I needed to do the same. Then, I focused on delivering news and information to an audience with their own computers and connectivity. Now, I was seeking to deliver the basic utility of computing to an audience which had no computers and no connectivity In 1994, I was an entrepreneurial child. In the summer of 2004, I have grown. As I see the world ahead, these two summers ten years apart are uncannily joined together as I think about both the opportunities ahead. The moment in time that I stand today, linked by the rainbow of revolutions, makes the heart of an entrepreneur leap.

From Employee to Entrepreneur (Aug 2004): The decision to be or not be an entrepreneur is an intensely personal one. It is one which needs to be discussed and debated with family and friends. It depends on each one’s appetite for risk. There is never a right or wrong answer, just as there is never a right or wrong time. The fundamental decision has to come from withinI also believe that once the decision is made to leave the world of employment and move to the world of entrepreneurship, the parachute needs to be cut. If we know that there are always the options of going back to the safety and security of the other world, it will be much harder making the entrepreneurial option work. In a sense, as we close one door, other doors will open. But we have to close doors. We have to believe that making the new venture succeed must be akin to a life-and-death battle. One has to fight knowing that there is no looking or going back The most important thing for an entrepreneur is to build a mental model of the industry under consideration. The mental model takes time to form. It is more about internalising the external views, developments and trends. It is the mental model which creates the foundation for the business. Understanding the bigger picture takes time, but is extremely important because of the challenges we will face on a regular basis as we seek to build out our business. Change is continuous and constant. It is the mental model or the latticework of mental models that will help us navigate the terrain, not with maps but with a compass.

An Entrepreneur’s Growth Challenge (Sep 2004): It is the dream of every entrepreneur to build a company that is Built to Last. Yet, it is that rare exception of an enterprise that makes the transition from Good to Great. Like an unprotected fawn in the big and dangerous forest, a new business must navigate difficult and challenging terrain as it grows from its early days to maturity. One small mistake can sound the death-knell for the fledgling business. So, how can a business grow?

My Life as an Entrepreneur (Nov 2004): Based on my experiences, there are three things that Id like to tell people starting their own businesses: Dream Big, Use Failure as a Teacher, Combine Optimism with Realism.

Black Swans (Aug 2004): Close your eyes. Imagine a swan. White in colour. Imagine another swan. White in colour. Imagine one more swan. It is also white in colour. Go on. Imagine more swans. There is no colour other than white that we can think of. Now, paint one of the swans black. Something doesnt seem right. A black swan? Hard to imagine. Hard to contemplate. Its almost unreal. Whoever in the world has seen a black swan? This column is about the unthinkable and the unimaginable. It is also about the possible. It is about black swans I believe that the next technological black swan the next Google will come not from the developed markets but from the emerging markets.

Wish you all a Very Happy New Year.

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IPTV Emergence

Unwired points ot comments by Philip Swann: “With Internet TV, television will go from being a convenience store to a giant supermarket. The viewer will scan the aisles for interesting programming, whether it’s from a well-known network or a start-up TV service based in someone’s garage in Silicon Valley. Much like today’s World Wide Web, Internet TV will give an equal opportunity to the big and the small. Of course, the established media will always have an advantage due to marketing muscle and recognition factor. But they will have to work harder to keep their spot in the viewer’s mind.”

Barron’s on Comcast

Barron’s writes in its cover story:

As a multiyear, $38 billion makeover of its vast fiberoptic network heads toward completion, Comcast is finally rolling out long-promised services: Internet-based telephony, TiVo-like digital video recorders, high-definition local and cable channels, video on demand with thousands of hours of programming, and a revitalized, content-driven broadband Internet service. Says CEO Brian Roberts: “Watching cable is a completely different experience than it was even 12 months ago.”

Microsoft Hardware

Bob Cringely speculates about the future:

Take a long look at xBox development, the evolving PC and consumer electronics markets, and Microsoft’s own need for revenue growth, and figure what that means for the xBox 3, which should appear around the end of this decade. My analysis suggests that xBox 3 will be a game system that’s also a media receiver and recorder and a desktop workstation. Not that you’d use one box for all three things, but that you’d buy three essentially identical boxes and use them for all three functions. And of course you’d buy extra units for kids and spare TVs, etc. In short, xBox 3 will be Microsoft’s effort to extend its dominance of the PC software industry into dominance of the PC hardware, game, and electronic entertainment industries. At that point, even mighty Dell goes down.

With its continual need for more revenue, Microsoft will by then have already finished its destruction of the world software market, will have sucked all the profit out of the world hardware market, and will discard its hardware OEMs like HP and Dell and compete with them head-to-head. And they’ll be doing the same for DVDs, TVs — even mobile phones. Of course, part of the plan is for all the content coming to those devices to throw off little revenue streams to Microsoft, too. And the software that holds it all together will be rented, rather than owned or even traditionally licensed. This would give Microsoft both the deterministic revenue stream it covets and the leverage of being able to threaten to turn off the tap and thereby maintain control over, well, all of us. It will be an effective five to 10 percent tax on global income that suddenly appears one day, and academics will call it a natural monopoly.

Argentina’s Comeback

Another emerging market is soaring. The New York Times writes:

Three years after Argentina declared a record debt default of more than $100 billion, the largest in history, the apocalypse has not arrived. Instead, the economy has grown by 8 percent for two consecutive years, exports have zoomed, the currency is stable, investors are gradually returning and unemployment has eased from record highs – all without a debt settlement or the standard measures required by the International Monetary Fund for its approval.

Argentina’s recovery has been undeniable, and it has been achieved at least in part by ignoring and even defying economic and political orthodoxy. Rather than moving to immediately satisfy bondholders, private banks and the I.M.F., as other developing countries have done in less severe crises, the Peronist-led government chose to stimulate internal consumption first and told creditors to get in line with everyone else.

“This is a remarkable historical event, one that challenges 25 years of failed policies,” said Mark Weisbrot, an economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal research group in Washington. “While other countries are just limping along, Argentina is experiencing very healthy growth with no sign that it is unsustainable, and they’ve done it without having to make any concessions to get foreign capital inflows.”

IBM’s Search Strategy

The New York Times writes:

I.B.M. [recently] released OmniFind, the first program to take advantage of its new strategy for solving search problems. This approach, which it calls unstructured information management architecture, or UIMA, will, according to I.B.M., lead to a third generation in the ability to retrieve computerized data. The first generation, according to this scheme, is simple keyword match – finding all documents that contain a certain name or address. This is all most desktop search systems can do – or need to do, because you’re mainly looking for an e-mail message or memorandum you already know is there. The next generation is the Web-based search now best performed by Google, which uses keywords and many other indicators to match a query to a list of sites.

I.B.M. says that its tools will make possible a further search approach, that of “discovery systems” that will extract the underlying meaning from stored material no matter how it is structured (databases, e-mail files, audio recordings, pictures or video files) or even what language it is in. The specific means for doing so involve steps that will raise suspicions among many computer veterans. These include “natural language processing,” computerized translation of foreign languages and other efforts that have broken the hearts of artificial-intelligence researchers through the years. But the combination of ever-faster computers and ever-evolving programming allowed the systems I saw to succeed at tasks that have beaten their predecessors.

Mr. Ciccolo, the search strategist, said that in a way his team was trying to match – and reverse – what Google has achieved. “As Google use became widespread, people began asking why it was so much easier to find material on the external Web than it was on their own computers or in their company’s Web sites,” he said. “Google sets a very high standard for that Web. We would like to set the next standard, so that people will find it so easy to do things at work that they’ll wonder why they can’t do them on the Internet.”

TECH TALK: Best of Tech Talk 2004: India and Bharat

The year show one of the biggest surprises in India in recent times: the incumbent BJP-led government which built its campaign around India Shining lost to a Congress-led coalition which focused on the common man. An economist, Dr. Manmohan Singh, became Indias new Prime Minister. Together with Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia, they are working to ensure that the benefits of reforms reach rural India also. The challenges for India are many. Time is short. How will Indias development take place?

As India Develops (Mar 2004): Indias development opens up many opportunities. Here, I will focus on seven key areas that entrepreneurs can seek to target in the coming years. While some of these ideas may be specific to the urban or rural context, others can work across both. The two things common to all of them are that they require much less capital than the build-out of core infrastructure, and they need new, innovative ideas. If we can make these ideas work in India, we could also translate them to many of the other emerging markets as they develop. The seven areas are: Education, Microfinance, Market Access, Information Access, ICT, Energy and Distribution HubsFor the most part, the focus [needs to be] on two sectors which can be the twin engines for growth: the small- and medium-sized enterprises of India, and rural IndiaAs we look ahead, what will be the other catalysing factors to accelerate Indias development? Think Vision and Will, Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

An Agenda for the Next Government (May 2004): After a popular, peaceful rebellion by the ballot, India has a new government at the Centre. The victory of the Congress and its allies was unexpected it was a surprise even for the victors. It just goes to show how much the media and we people in urban India are out-of-step with the opinion of the majority. So, after eight years in the political wilderness, the Congress returns to power and Vajpayee leaves the helm of India after six-and-a-half years. The election results will cause a lot of soul-searching across the Indian political spectrum. Even as the post-mortem takes place, it is time for a new government to take over. This column looks at the challenges for the new leadership: Governance, Development, TechnologyIrrespective of what party or candidate we voted for, it is for us to ensure that we get the governance we need to take India forward faster. Bharat and India are but two sides of the same coin. Without one, there is no other. The hopes of many now rest with a few.

I also took a couple of journeys during the year one through Rajasthan, and another to From Delhi ot Dehradhun by train (en route to Mussoorie for a talk). Journeys give me time to think more about India.

Rajasthan Ruminations (Feb 2004): In many ways, Rajasthans story is that of India a glorious past, but a future handicapped by the short-sighted policies of our own leaders. The problems are complex, but at their core, there are a few. India is a country whose spirit has, for a long time, been held hostage by its own politicians and bureaucrats. There are signs of change, but it is coming very slowly. And unless we act quickly, another generation will have lost an opportunity for a better tomorrow To bring back the glorious era of the past, Rajasthan and Rural India needs the right mix of governance , entrepreneurship and technology to put it on the road to economic development and prosperity.

A Train Journey (Jun 2004): Sitting in the train, I couldnt help thinking that access to computing could be that disruptive innovation which transforms lives in the Indian countryside not just in rural India, but also for the middle and bottom of the pyramid in urban and semi-urban India. From education to healthcare, for families and students, from content to commerce, for shopkeepers and enterprises the computer is the digital hand that can potentially remake India. It can provide for efficient operations, create opportunities, increase options and open new windows to the future. How can we make the third revolution happen in the next five years to open windows for hundreds of millions of Indians to the future? That is what occupied my thoughts as dusk turned to night and we made our way to the foothills of Mussoorie.

Tomorrow: Entrepreneurship

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Killer Tsunami

As the days go by, the grim and tragic reality of what happened on Sunday morning across South and South-East Asia is becoming apparent. The death toll in the earthquake and the tsunamis which followed is already up to 60,000 and still rising. The relief effort is perhaps the largest the world has ever undertaken.

There is little we can do in the wake of natural disasters. But, as is being discussed, a real-time warning system which tracks exceptional events and indicators, could have made it possible to get the word across to people in the coastal areas. While natural disasters cannot be prevented, technology must be able to play a role in alleviating the human impact of such events.

As the magnitude of what had happened become clear, I was struck by one of the incidents in Michael Crichtons recent book, State of Fear, which I had just read. While that deals with global warming and eco-terrorism, one of the incidents discussed in the book is the efforts by a few to actually cause the equivalent of an underwater earthquake in South-East Asia and trigger a tsunami which would impact Los Angeles in the name of attracting attention to the cause to abrupt climate change. There is of course no correlation what happened on Sunday was a natural event, but I could not help thinking about the uncanny similarity with the Crichton event.

We all have to do our best to assist in the efforts. India has risen as one twice in the past five years during Kargil, and in the aftermath of the Gujarat earthquake. We need to do so once again.

As I was sitting today morning in the balcony of my home in Mumbai looking out to the Arabian Sea, I wondered at the calmness of the early morning waters and couldnt help but think how little we know of the future. One moment people were going about their lives on Sunday morning, and the next they were hit by a wall of water. We know very little of whats going to happen next. But what we must attempt to do is to live our lives well so that we can make a positive difference in the time that we are on Earth.

Bus. Std: VoIP, Wi-FI and Network Computers

My latest Business Standard column:

In this series, we are discussing cold technologies which Pip Coburn, a managing director and global technology strategist in the technology group of UBS Investment Research, defined as those that have neutral revenue or even anti revenue attributes. Cold technologies are important in our context because even as they shrink the investment that users have to make, they help them catch-up or even leapfrog to a world that is faster, better, cheaper in terms of the digital infrastructure that we need to build out in India. In the previous column, we covered two such cold technologies: open-source software and software delivered as a service.


Internet telephony is turning the world of telcos upside down. From being able to charge by distance and time (based on where the called party was and how long the conversation lasted), phone calls have become a fixed price commodity as they are shifting to the Internet. We have also seen this in India with phone calls to the US being advertised for under Rs 2 per minute as compared to nearly Rs 100 a few years ago. Software like Skype offers free person-to-person calling via computers.
The Wall Street Journal put the disruption in the US market in perspective: The Bells have lost some 28 million local phone lines since the end of 2000 — a drop of more than 18%. This is the first time since the Great Depression that phone companies have seen their lines decline. The Bells are now losing 4% of their residential lines a yearBehind the telephone earthquake is a giant force in business history: Just a few years after the Internet investment bubble spectacularly burst, the Web is now maturing and irrevocably transforming commerce. Today phone calls — just like music, photos, and video — can be turned into digital information and delivered much like e-mail over the Internet.


Mobile phone companies globally have paid tens of billions of dollars for licences for 3G. The world on offer: ubiquitous, high-speed Internet access. The problem: the future may arrive unscheduled! This is happening because of Wi-Fi (which uses unlicenced spectrum) and other next-generation data technologies.

Wi-Fi Networking News puts this in perspective: If users get hooked on Wi-Fi networks that are free to access, they may decide to go out of their way to find a free hotspot rather than pay for the cellular access which at least these days is far more expensive. However, its likely that a certain market segment will pay for the convenience of having the higher speed wireless data from the cellular operators in more locations.

Underlying this shift is what Kevin Werbach has called the radio revolution. The combination of unlicenced spectrum and adaptive mobile phones can dramatically change the way we think of spectrum and what we pay for it. Werbach wrote in the introduction of his report: The radio revolution is the single greatest communications policy issue of the coming decade, and perhaps the coming century. The economics of entire industries could be transformed. Every significant public policy challenge could be implicated: competition; innovation; investment; diversity of programming; job creation; equality of access; coverage for rural and underserved areas; and promotion of education, health care, local communities, public safety, and national security.

Network Computers

The twin challenges of affordability and manageability are making companies consider alternatives to Windows desktops. The use of thin clients in emerging markets can reduce upfront costs and also tackle the complexity challenge. From small- and medium-sized enterprises to education, network computers have the potential to tackle the issue of non-consumption that has hampered the buildout of the digital infrastructure in developing countries.

Even though the idea of thin clients and network computers has been around for a long time, it is only now that serious interest is emerging along with the first success stories. ZDNet wrote recently about Europcars shift: The car hire firm has saved on hardware and maintenance costs by migrating its 1,500 stations to thin clients running Linux, but Stefan Ostrowski, the CIO of Europcar, said that while migrating to Linux thin clients has saved them money, but it would not have been as cost effective for them to migrate fat clients to Linux. The effort to install or maintain Windows and Linux is the same, though you might save a bit on licence costs, said Ostrowski. You are not saving a lot by moving fat clients from Windows to Linux. But by converting fat clients to terminal servers we have reduced the total cost of ownership by 60 percent. The main advantage for Europcar in migrating to Linux terminals has been the ability to centrally manage the terminals in its 1,500 rental stations, which are spread across Europe. Ostrowski said this has dramatically reduced the cost of maintaining the systems and in particular the cost of implementing updates.

This series will continue in the next column.

Tracking Fast Moving stories

Robert Scoble offers some suggestions:

1) RSS search tools like Feedster and Pubsub. Pubsub is bringing back more results and better-formatted RSS results, but Feedster has a better Web experience.

2) Professional news sources. I watch Google News, Yahoo News, and MSN Newsbot. These sites sift through thousands of “professional” news sources like Associated Press, Reuters, BBC, and others.

3) Inbound links. I use a variety of engines to track who is linking into a specific site. Mostly I care about bloggers here, because those will be the fastest to react to news and I care about what they say.

Next-Gen TV

Wired writes:

We live in the age of the digital packet. Documents, images, music, phone calls – all get chopped up, propelled through networks, and reassembled at the other end according to Internet protocol. So why not TV?

That’s the question cable giants like Comcast and Time Warner and Baby Bells like SBC and Verizon have been asking. The concept has profound implications for television and the Internet. TV over Internet protocol – IPTV – will transform couch-cruising into an on-demand experience. For the Internet, it will mean broadband at speeds 10, 100, or even 1,000 times faster than today’s DSL or cable. Online games would be startlingly realistic; the idea of channels would seem hopelessly archaic. Why not indeed?

IPTV is not to be confused with television over the Internet. On the public Net, packets get delayed or lost entirely – that’s why Web video is so jerky and lo-res. But private networks like Comcast’s are engineered, obviously, for reliable video delivery – which means IPTV will look at least as good as TV coming from digital cable or satellite.

It will be accompanied by another, equally critical change. Instead of broadcasting every channel continuously, service providers plan to transmit them only to subscribers who request them. In effect, every channel will be streamed on demand. This will free up huge amounts of bandwidth for hi-def TV and high-speed broadband. Add IP and you get interactive services like caller ID on your TV. And the system will be able to track viewing habits as effectively as Amazon tracks its customers, so ads will be targeted with scary precision. Put it all together and you’ve got television that’s as intensely personalized as 20th-century broadcasting was generic.

Thin Clients Get Hot

WSJ writes:

Computers with bells, whistles and multiple-gigahertz processors landed under Christmas trees across the country this past weekend. But much of that computing firepower is increasingly irrelevant in a broadband, Web-enabled world.

Nowadays, consumers can do much of their computing without relying on their own PCs for a lot of processing or storage. Millions of Americans already use free Web-based e-mail and online photo services. Powerful servers and massive hard drives owned by the likes of Yahoo and Ofoto store the e-mails and photos and run the applications that consumers use to manage them. The user’s PC needs little more than a Web browser and a display.

What has changed from the 1990s is that tech thinkers are less focused on the thin-client device itself. Cheap PCs abound, and increasingly intelligent and data-networked cellphones and other hand-held devices can tap into Web-based services. Most TV sets will be able to connect to the Web in one way or another within a few years.

The turbocharged PC under the Christmas tree may be overkill for most consumers. But with a Web browser on it, it should be useful for a long while.

TECH TALK: Best of Tech Talk 2004: Rethinking Computing (Part 2)

Massputers, Redux (Oct 2004): Let us first look at the realities in emerging markets: the 10-90 Chasm, the 1-9-90 Split, Price(Intel+Microsoft) = Low Constant, the ADAM Challenges, Leveraging Broadband, Focus on the Middle of the Pyramid, Think SystemsA digital infrastructure can help [emerging markets] address the pain points that plague personal life and business interactions better. For example, if India needs to ensure education for the 200 million youth of the country, computers can complement teachers to help students learn better. Computers can make businesses into real-time enterprises and thus make supply chains more efficient. Computing can help governments interact better with citizens. Even entertainment can be transformed with the availability of Massputers. Here is what emerging markets need to build their digital infrastructure: Network Computers, the Grid as Platform, Utility Pricing, tech 7-11s, Relevant Applications and ContentThe competition here is non-consumption, the constraint is our own imagination.

CommPuting Grid: The grid that I am thinking of to complement the network computers is a public computing grid which provides virtual desktops to network computers. It is not about aggregating a collection of existing resources from across the network. Instead, it is about creating a scalable and reliable platform to address the needs for potentially millions of users. It is a platform because it allows other independent software vendors to deploy their applications on this computing foundation. It offers the ability to bill users with varying levels of granularity based on quantum of computing power and storage used, and also the time of day. In that sense, it is probably more akin to the telecom system that exists around the worldt is this computing grid that will finally make computing a utility. Today’s monikers like application service providers (ASPs) and software-as-a-service will dissolve into the more general-purpose commPuting-as-a-utility. This grid will provide computing and communications, and make possible the availability of the benefits of computers to the next billion of users, and simultaneously addresses the total cost of ownership issues for the first billionThe first wave of computing adoption in the past two decades has addressed the needs of the top 10% of the world. The CommPuting Grid offers a potential to focus on the next 90%. The building blocks for grid computing low-cost network computers, broadband connections, commoditised software platforms are now becoming available. India and other emerging markets have an opportunity to leapfrog into the next-generation of computing just like they did with mobile telephony.

Tomorrows World (Nov 2004): There are five dimensions along which we can explore tomorrow’s world and build the right models which can be the foundation for creating (or growing) future businesses: devices, networks, infrastructure, services and paymentsOur five-dimensional world of tomorrows commPuting utility comprises: network computers as zero-management access devices, ubiquitous broadband wireless networks, server-based computing and storage grid as the underlying infrastructure, centrally accessible services built around hosted software and content, and utility-like subscription-based payment modelThis utility combines the best of multiple models that we see around us: i-modes platform, Salesforces hosted software, TiVos time-shifted content, Googles desktop ads and Yahoos personalizationThe next set of users in the emerging markets can be divided into five major segments: SMEs, Educational Institutions, Homes and Shops, Tech 7-11s and Rural AreasFive new opportunities which open up for entrepreneurs are: LAN Grids, Broadband Content Factory, Software Aggregator, Micro-eBays and Micropayments infrastructure.

Tomorrow: India and Bharat

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Peter Drucker Quotes

[via Yuvaraj Galada] Forbes has an interview with Peter Drucker. Excerpts:

What Needs to Be Done
Successful leaders don’t start out asking, “What do I want to do?” They ask, “What needs to be done?” Then they ask, “Of those things that would make a difference, which are right for me?” They don’t tackle things they aren’t good at. They make sure other necessities get done, but not by them. Successful leaders make sure that they succeed! They are not afraid of strength in others. Andrew Carnegie wanted to put on his gravestone, “Here lies a man who knew how to put into his service more able men than he was himself.”

Check Your Performance
Effective leaders check their performance. They write down, “What do I hope to achieve if I take on this assignment?” They put away their goals for six months and then come back and check their performance against goals. This way, they find out what they do well and what they do poorly. They also find out whether they picked the truly important things to do. I’ve seen a great many people who are exceedingly good at execution, but exceedingly poor at picking the important things. They are magnificent at getting the unimportant things done. They have an impressive record of achievement on trivial matters.

Mission Driven
Leaders communicate in the sense that people around them know what they are trying to do. They are purpose driven–yes, mission driven. They know how to establish a mission. And another thing, they know how to say no. The pressure on leaders to do 984 different things is unbearable, so the effective ones learn how to say no and stick with it. They don’t suffocate themselves as a result. Too many leaders try to do a little bit of 25 things and get nothing done. They are very popular because they always say yes. But they get nothing done.

VoIP Value

AlwaysOn Network has a post by Brennan:

[Here is] what Voice Over IP (VoIP) can offer versus the standard Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

  • Waay Lower Costs: In addition to eliminating the cost of long-distance calling, VoIP allows organizations to converge all communication onto one data network, eliminating their voice network, and saving on maintenance costs.

  • Wicked Flexibility: Since IP addresses are location independent, an integrated VoIP system allows tele-commuting employees to direct all communications to a remote office, home, or even a broadband wireless device.

    VoIP for the Lay-Businessman
    Once you believe in the benefits of this new communication platform, your real questions become, when do I adopt? and how do I reap the most rewards?

    Brennan [AlwaysOn Network] | POSTED: 12.22.04 @23:13
    Note to Readers: Since I was busted for my youth in my opening column last week, I thought I would write this one in the vernacular of my generation. What ever happened to that Dude, youre gettin a Dell guy anyway? Oh yeah… I remember.

    Alright, here goes, first lets go over what Voice Over IP (VoIP) can offer versus the standard Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

    Waay Lower Costs: In addition to eliminating the cost of long-distance calling, VoIP allows organizations to converge all communication onto one data network, eliminating their voice network, and saving on maintenance costs.

    Wicked Flexibility: Since IP addresses are location independent, an integrated VoIP system allows tele-commuting employees to direct all communications to a remote office, home, or even a broadband wireless device.


  • Totally Multi-media Communication: Data networks dont distinguish between voice, video, and data traffic (though administrators can prioritize), so any communication can easily integrate all three. VoIP allows for video conferencing and document collaboration, as well as unified messaging so that voicemails and emails can all be handled in the same place.

  • Sweet Call Centers: VoIP, when integrated with a CRM system, allows customer service representatives to immediately see all case history, account information, shipping and inventory the moment a call is received, eliminating the annoying process of repeatedly entering your account number on your touchtone keypad.