Harshdeep 2.0

February 27, 2007

Touch screens are in

Filed under: Uncategorized — harshdeep @ 3:17 pm

This probably has nothing to do with Apple iPhone ditching the keyboard for a gorgeous big screen, but some laptop manufacturers (Estari and Canovo, for example) are doing the same in their own way.

What you get is a folding tablet PC with two (touch) screens. You can hold it like a newspaper (and wish it could be as light), and one of the screens can double up as a keyboard when you want.

Canovo Estari
Oomph factor aside, the Estari machine is low on specs and high on cost ($4350). Canovo machine (like the iPhone) is nothing more than an announcement right now. Seems like this dual-touch screen model is not ready for mass market yet.

On a related note, I saw the demo of a multi touch screen system in last year’s SIGGRAPH by Jeff Han from NYU. It’s like what you might have seen in one of the iPhone demos – zooming an image by holding it with two fingers and moving them apart, but it’s a lot more. Jeff maintains a Multi-touchscreen.com. Do check out the video – he shows off many interesting applications of this multi touch interaction.

On another related note, this concept phone from BenQ is “basically one big touchscreen”.

Blackbox

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February 25, 2007

The bright side of software piracy

Filed under: Ramblings — harshdeep @ 1:54 pm

A lot of mouths were left wide open, most probably including that of Bill Gates, when the Romanian President sang praises of pirated software in front of him.

According to Reuters, Basescu said, during a joint news conference with Gates, that piracy helped the younger generation discover computers. It set off the development of the IT industry in Romania.It also helped Romanians improve their creative capacity in the IT industry, which has become famous around the world. He claimed that all this piracy “ten years ago” was an investment in Romania’s friendship with Microsoft and with Bill Gates.

This holds true for India as well. Now I’m not saying that everyone should use pirated software. I wouldn’t get my monthly salary if they did. All I’m saying is that the booming Indian IT industry (and that of Romania and other developing countries) would not have been so high on steroids if there were no pirated software. (Pirated music and video is another issue altogether – let’s not get into that)

Buying a computer is still a major budget decision for a middle class Indian family. It was more so till some years back when the prices of computers had not yet plummeted. Add to that the cost of minimal software that one needs, and it becomes totally unaffordable.

Thanks to piracy, a whole generation of Indian students could use Windows, Visual Studio, Office, Matlab, Photoshop and other expensive, but necessary, pieces of software. One trip to the legendary Nehru Place (in Delhi) was all it took. And I think a lot of small businesses would not have tried out computers to manage their accounts and catalogues, if they had to pay for the software.

This did result in loss to the software industry in terms of lost sales, but in the long run, the industry has benefited tremendously. Students who trained themselves on pirated software have grown up to be a part of the vibrant technology industry in the country. They form a skilled, but less expensive, workforce for the industry. Some of my batchmates, who had pirated copies of Windows on their home computers as students, went on to Microsoft to develop (if peripheral) components for Vista.

When students turn into professionals, they become willing to pay for the software – since many of them create software for a living themselves, and/or work in corporates that buy their software for them. Similarly, as small companies become mid-sized, or large, their dependence on software increases, they feel the need to comply with the law morally and because of greater visibility and the price of the software becomes less daunting – so they also start paying for the software. Hence there is this huge market, that has been, and will continue to be, developed because of pirated software.

It’s a fair world, after all.

February 11, 2007

The BluXone blog

Filed under: BluXone, Mobile — harshdeep @ 8:31 am

BluXone

Mayank has finally created the official BluXone blog. Check it out for all related news and discussions.

Introduction to BluXone

Get BluXone

February 10, 2007

Attack of the iPhone-Killers

Filed under: Mobile — harshdeep @ 7:38 pm

Now that companies have got tired of announcing iPod-Killers, iPhone-Killers are very much in. Every major phone manufacturer has something to offer here.

Apple iPhone         LG KE850

LG, in fact, had announced an uncannily similar phone, LG KE850 even before Steve God Jobs announced iPhone in the last Stevenote. (Digression – ever heard of the Reality Distortion Field?) So, an iPhone killer was planned even before iPhone was announced. LG has almost been psychic in this. The two phones look so similar in the sample shots, that they seem to have been designed by the same people.

Microsoft Zune Phone
Microsoft of course has not been sitting idly through the iPhone hype and is all set to convert it’s (unsuccessful) iPod-Killer, Zune to it’s iPhone-Killer, Zune Phone. CrunchGear reports that the device could actually be available in May – a month before iPhone!
Samsung Ultra Smart F700

Samsung is not to be left behind. It will show off its iPhone killer, unimaginatively named Ultra Smart F700, at next week’s 3GSM World Conference in Barcelona, Spain. However, it’s not solely touchscreen-based, and has a pull-down qwerty keyboard, and 3G which is conspicuously absent from the iPhone.
Nokia N800

Nokia’s very own iPhone-killer, according to PC Pro, is it’s internet tablet, N800. However, the catch is that it’s not exactly a phone. It is primarily meant to browse the internet through WLAN, and does not come with GSM, or 3G connectivity. So, if you wanna make calls, you are limited to VoIP.
Google Switch

There have also been rumors about Google and Samsung teaming up to create Google Switch, another iPhone-Killer. The pictures of the device, however, have a distinct Photoshopped feel, and not many people are buying the rumors.
FIC Neo 1973

The best thing that can happen for a new phone is to be touted as an iPhone-Killer. Like FIC Neo 1973, based on OpenMoko Linux. Indeed, here is an explicit comparison of Neo and iPhone.
Meizu M8

A picture of Meizu M8, an Oriental look-alike of iPhone is getting it’s share of hype on gadget blogs.

Whether it’s Steve Ballmer shrugging it off as too expensive, or Nokia calling it too ambitious, iPhone has had a very tangible effect on the industry, at least in the short term. Interesting times ahead.

February 2, 2007

BluXone – Harness the power of Bluetooth

Filed under: BluXone — harshdeep @ 8:40 pm

BluXone

Mayank announced the beta release of BluXone (Blu-Zone) to a hall full of cheering mobile enthusiasts at Mobile Monday, Delhi last week. The response of the audience was heart-warming – an encouraging culmination of months of after-office hours development.

We started working on BluXone with the intent to make sharing over Bluetooth simple. The prevalent model of sharing stuff over Bluetooth is Push-based. It you have a really funny video clip on your phone, and you want to share it with your friends through Bluetooth, you have to send it to them one by one.

Wouldn’t it be better if you could just “share” those video clips (or images or ringtones, for that matter) on your phone once, and your friends could browse and search through your shared files on their phones and download whatever they found interesting? BluXone let’s you do just that. You can share stuff on your phone, just like you share a folder on your desktop over LAN. And when you hit search in BluXone, it shows you a list of files shared by people in your vicinity and you can start downloading right away.

BluXone does some smart things behind the scenes to make sure that you get hassle-free file transfers. With normal Bluetooth file transfer, you can only send a file to one person at a time. With BluXone, however, multiple people can download multiple files from a device at the same time, thanks to an application level protocol that we developed over the Symbian Bluetooth stack.

It’s a nice way of meeting new people too. You can create a profile of yourself, with as much or as little information as you want, and people in your vicinity can view it on their phones, probably while they are downloading a ringtone from your phone. If you like somebody’s profile, you can also start a chat session with that person over Bluetooth. Convenient and free. If you are feeling particularly euphoric about something, and want to tell the world about it, just enter a message in the Announce section, and everyone carrying a device with BluXone in your vicinity will be buzzed with it.

Did I mention that it’s free? All you need is a compatible phone. Here’s the download page for the beta, with the list of supported phones. Go get it.

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