Harshdeep 2.0

November 23, 2006

Animator vs Animated is back!

Filed under: Fun — harshdeep @ 1:36 pm

Remember the bad-tempered stick figure fighting its creator in Flash?

He has returned with special powers in the sequel. This time he escapes from Flash into the desktop, pulls off matrix-like stunts and beats up the AIM logo. Must watch!


November 16, 2006

Mobile advertising

Filed under: Uncategorized — harshdeep @ 6:45 pm

Both Google and Yahoo want to show you ads on your mobile phone. Yahoo has partnered with Vodafone in UK to show “carefully targeted display advertisements” to volunteering customers, who will in turn get discounts on certain services. Google CEO, Eric Schmidt is even more bullish about the possible benefits of mobile ads for the customer – to the extent of providing free phones.

Google seems to be moving uncharacteristically slow in this direction. It has not entered into any deal with operators. In some countries, it shows ads to people googling on their phone browsers. These ads, keeping with the phone screen sizes, are shorter than the ads meant for the desktop.

Whenever mobile ads come of age, there will be big money involved. Online ads gave thousands of web start-ups a business model and a gigantic revenue stream to Google.

A record $4.2 billion was spent on Internet advertising during the third quarter of 2006, up 33% from the $3.1 billion spent a year ago, according to a study released Tuesday by the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Targeted ads

Mobile ads can be much more targeted than the online ads – where ads are mostly selected on the basis of the context of the page on which they are to be displayed.

Mobile ads can be targeted based on your location. GPS receivers are going to be as widely available on mobile phones as cameras have become. But even before that, a coarse estimate of user’s location can be made on the basis of the cellular towers that he can contact. Other parameters that can be used by the targeting algorithm are the user’s profile available from the operator (age, sex, monthly spending in telephone bills etc.) and time of day.

So, if you happen to be around TGIF between 7-8:30pm, you’ll get a notification that their happy hours are on, but only if you are not a minor. How does that sound?

November 15, 2006

New Spider Man 3 trailer

Filed under: Uncategorized — harshdeep @ 1:23 pm

Here‘s the new trailer of Spider Man 3 with Sandman and junior Green Goblin. Though they don’t show Venom in this one, you can see the alien symbiote forming a dark suite on SpiderMan. It’s supposed to be released in May 2007.

Also found an old trailer of Spider Man 1 that never got released because it features the World Trade Center and 9/11 happened before they started showing the trailers. It’s an interesting one though.

November 13, 2006

Specialized video codecs

Filed under: Video — harshdeep @ 2:11 pm

Just came to know that Microsoft has a special video codec for screencasts (through Coding Horror). Screencasts are indeed very different from normal videos. Generally they have very low motion, and the UI consists of huge areas of same color. This itself makes these videos highly compressible, but a specific codec for such videos can better exploit these properties for higher compression.

It should give good results with 2D animated movies also, as they have similar properties. And indeed, there is Apple’s Animation codec that works on the same assumption of long horizontal lines of same color. However, for real world footage “it barely compresses at all” according to Wikipedia.

This spurs an interesting train of thought about improving compression for certain types of videos by exploiting their properties, like in TV Sitcoms in which the same set is repeated in various scenes, not necessarily continguous, or the same background image for long shots in sports videos for certain camera angles. Intriguing!

November 12, 2006

WiMax coming to India in 6 months

Filed under: Mobile — harshdeep @ 9:12 am

“If the required spectrum is available”, says VSNL.

WiMax trials have been carried out previously in some small patches of the country like Baramati near Pune.

It should make it possible to take broadband to the rural areas, where the geography or low population density does not warrant relatively expensive wired connections. Cheap connectivity to rural people alone can be instrumental in their development, opening up huge volume-based markets.

WiMax offers faster speeds than UMTS but less than Wi-Fi (which, however, has a very small range of 30 meters) . Quoting from a Computer World story:

The nonprofit WiMax Forum has predicted on its Web site that the technology will offer throughput of between 15Mbit/sec. and 40Mbit/sec. over a range of six miles. By comparison, today’s best cellular EV-DO (Evolution Data Optimized) networks max out at 700Kbit/sec.

Here is a graph from Wikipedia placing WiMax with respect to other competing standards in terms of speed and mobility

November 11, 2006

Youtube – Best invention of 2006.

Filed under: Uncategorized — harshdeep @ 8:25 pm

The Time magazine has selected Youtube as the best invention of this year. Founded by three former PayPal employees in 2005 to make video sharing as simple as image sharing, Youtube has developed a cult around itself. Here is an AJAXy timeline of Youtube’s history.

YouTube is ultimately more interesting as a community and a culture, however, than as a cash cow. It’s the fulfillment of the promise that Web 1.0 made 15 years ago. The way blogs made regular folks into journalists, YouTube makes them into celebrities. The real challenge old media face isn’t protecting their precious copyrighted material. It’s figuring out what to do when the rest of us make something better. As Hurley puts it, “How do you stay relevant when people can entertain themselves?” He and his partners may have started YouTube, but the rest of us, in our basements and bedrooms, with our broadband and our webcams, invented it.

Thanks to this huge and dedicated community, Youtube has been able to sustain itself, and according to some, even earn astounding amounts of money on advertisements alone.

This is also the reason why Google bought Youtube for $1.65b in spite of having a competing service, Google Video, that had everything but the community.

Here are the rest of the inventions in Time’s this year’s list.

November 3, 2006

GMail Mobile

Filed under: Mobile, Web 2.0 — harshdeep @ 8:25 pm

Google just released a J2ME application to get GMail on the mobile phone. You can get it by pointing your browser here. Since it’s J2ME, there is a very high possibility that you phone is supported.

I installed the application on my Nokia 6630. It downloaded the mails quickly and browsing through them is quite fast. They say it keeps downloading messages in the background. The UI is pretty neat, and it can also display word and PDF files.

There are some issues though. If your message is too long, this app would just truncate it. If you want to read the entire message, you have to open gmail on the browser.

MobleCrunch reports that on Nokia S60 3rd edition phones, you should go to the app download page through the WAP browser (for some reason called “Services”) and not the Safari-based browser (called “Web”). Apparently, there is some issue in identifying the model of the phone when you are using “Web”.

It’s never really been a problem to check out my GMail account on my Nokia 6630. I can use the factory installed web browser, or I can pop the mail directly to the inbox and get SMS-like alerts for each mail (which generally is more irritating than useful).

But the UI and speed improvements are enough for me to switch to this app.

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