Thin Computing

Tom Foremski writes: “Wyse Technology, the leading thin-client manufacturer, told SVW that it is in talks with both Google and Yahoo, for the design and production of powerful low-priced computers integrating data, voice, and broadband connectivity.”

The growth of Internet users in developing countries could be dramatically accelerated if GOOG and YHOO were to subsidize the hardware and communications platform.

Similarly, Ebay and Amazon, could provide their trading platforms to massive new markets in the developing world.

Prices could be further reduced if the computers used Linux instead of Microsoft Windows to run a web browser-the only user interface required to access online services. And the use of Intel-compatible chips from AMD and others, could further reduce prices.

The internet rivals would be competing for hundreds of millions of new users within a hot demographic: the young middle classes forming in the developing world, primarily in India and China.

By making the PC and internet technology significantly more affordable, such moves would help bridge a massive digital divide: 84 percent of the world’s population has no Internet access.

Zimbra for Email

Om Malik thinks Zimbra has done email right:

For starters, it does everything Outlook does, except in a browser. For instance, you can drag and drop emails and turn them into calendar events, or create appointments, and invite attendees. It senses phone-numbers, turns them into hyperlinks which can be clicked to initiate calls via Skype or SIP based systems. The company has just added added abilities to link directly to an Asterisk PBX system to make outbound calls from within the client.

It can also auto-find addresses, and using a Yahoo Maps (or Google Maps) Zimlet, give you directions to that location. It is ridiculously simple, that I wonder why more email clients dont have such support. Zimlets, are Zimbras version of plugins, or AppleScript, that can help you extend the clients functionality. I hope someone writes a great little zimlet that would let me blog emails to my WordPress blog.

I would go out on a limb and say that it combines the best of both Microsoft Outlook and Googles GMail! Plus, Zimbra has this search and save search feature that is very much like Apple Mails smart mailboxes.

Tomorrow’s Networks

Robert Cringely writes:

what network technology will be dominant, say, five to seven years from now? I can say with some assurance that it will be IP-based and that it will have the capability to appear to legacy devices just like the analog network being replaced. But on the network level, will it be DSL, digital cable, WiMax, Broadband-over Power Line (BPL), Ultra-Wide Band (UWB), WiFi, or something behind Door Number Three? On the application level will it be unicast, multicast, edge-caching, peer-to-peer, or yet something else from behind Door Number Three? The answers are “yes” and “yes,” but the details vary depending on who is your ISP.

As a total solution, then, both the cable company and the phone company don’t make it. Cable doesn’t have the market penetration and telephone broadband doesn’t have the bandwidth. Each needs something else, and that’s where supplemental technologies take over. For cable that probably means some form of wireless to allow relatively cheap connections to the 33 percent of homes who don’t have cable and are unlikely to buy it under any circumstances. Yes, it would be easier to just connect the darned cable, but enough of the market is showing reluctance to do that that it is time for the cable companies to get a clue and offer some alternative path, which could be WiMax or maybe BPL.

Microsoft 2

John Battelle writes that Microsoft should be split:

MSFT has already taken the first step, which is to reorganize into three distinct businesses – Platform and Products (Windows and MSN), Business (Software), and Entertainment/Devices (Xbox etc.). But really, what it needs to do is spin out a Google/Yahoo killer. Take Search, Live, and a good chunk of MSR (research) and make it a separately traded division of MSFT. Take the damn thing public. Imagine that IPO!

Let’s call this new company LiveSoft. It spins out with exclusive licenses from MSFT for integration with Windows and Office. For infrastructure support and access to patents/IP/research/human capital. All the stuff it needs from Mommy Microsoft, it can have.

TECH TALK: A Presentation at PC Forum: The Preparation

The PC Forum organisers had set up a free and optional consulting session for presenters with a professional speaker coach, Jezra Kaye, to help them sharpen and focus their two-minute pitch, and to work on presentation skills. I had accepted the offer. I went to meet Jezra shortly after I arrived on Sunday (March 12), a few hours before the start of the event.

I thought writing out a couple hundred words was the only preparation I needed. After all, I had given many presentations in the past and was completely confident of myself. All I had to do was to stand up in front of the audience and talk. I only had one problem, which I told Jezra. Since the allocated time was just two minutes, I wasnt comfortable with memorising my speech. (The last time I did it as a fourteen year-old contesting for school captain elections, I blanked out midway and walked off the stage without completing my speech.)

Jezra started off by quoting Winston Churchill who said something like: If you want me to speak for two minutes, it will take me three weeks of preparation. If you want me to speak for thirty minutes, it will take me a week to prepare. If you want me to speak for an hour, I am ready now. Jezra said that we would need to practice till I could internalise the talk every word of it.

Practice? Me? I thought I was ready! But after a couple mock pitches, I realised that she was right. I was no way close to ready. Writing the pitch was just the start. The words did not flow well. My delivery left a lot to be desired because the mind raced ahead to what I was going to say next. I had work to do.

For the next three hours, we worked on my two-minute pitch. We made numerous corrections to the text till every word was perfect and exactly in the place it should be. I delivered the pitch again and again and again. As Jezra put it, no amount of practice is sufficient. We also went to the actual room in which I was going to present. As I stood at the podium, my heart started beating faster. Tomorrow, there would be a few hundred people in there. A nervousness came over me. We practiced there in the empty room, till I became more confident.

As Jezra put it, standing in front of people can reduce confidence rapidly. So, one has to be more than prepared because one will lose a bit of energy. The occasion awes you. The pressure was perhaps a little higher on me because at the back of my mind, I also thought I was representing India. Novatium was, after all, the first India-based company chosen to present at PC Forum. I was a bit weighed down by expectations. But after a few trials, I was ready. The pitch was now part of me. I felt every word coming from within as I spoke in that empty room. Jezra give some additional tips on eye contact and the need to end with a smile, inviting people (rather than ordering them) to come for my presentation later that afternoon.

What I thought would be a few minutes of work cleaning up the text of the pitch had become a few hours of practice and mental build-out. I could see a sea change in myself from the time I started. As I walked back to my hotel room, I understood the point Churchill (and Jezra) were making. I will not be talking presentations lightly going ahead!

Tomorrow: The Pitch

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