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2005 — Yearly Archive

Project Aardvark == Remote Desktop

Is Project Aardvark a remote desktop service that works through firewalls using an HTTP-based reflector, like GoToMyPC and MyWebexPC, given some of the hints the Aardvark team has been dropping? Given the team’s working with a lot of GPL code, maybe they’re extending VNC?

Incidentally, I find myself using MyWebexPC a lot these days and it’s quite good (and the basic version’s free for upto 5 PCs) … if you find yourself working on several machines, you might want to give it a try.

Update: Hadn’t noticed this: Michael Still has discovered what Aardvark is: SidePilot, a service that allows ‘people to help their friends, relatives, and customers fix their computer problems by temporarily controlling their computers via the Internet’.

1 Comment

24 June 2005 10:25 am

The Brown/Blair One-Two Punch

I’ve linked to posts about Europe before and as you might realize I am not the biggest fan of the European Social Model. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I’d love longer vacations and shorter workweeks as much as the next man but the results the European Model has produced are nothing short of alarming: an aging population, a looming pensions crisis and double-digit unemployment alone make for a gloomy picture before unintegrated immigrants/minorities are added to create an explosive mix.

So it’s with some relief that I see Brown (yesterday) and Blair (today) have stepped up to give the EU a reality check. At a time when the EU leadership is busy papering over the reality of two popular thumbs-downs (cue Juncker’s ‘they didn’t really vote No’), someone had to point out that the EU was fixating on the past with its focus on protectionism and subsidy in a world of ever-competitive nations.

Let’s hope Europe’s people are listening, for many of their leaders will not.

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23 June 2005 8:42 pm

The Compleat Beethoven

BBC Radio 3:

From 9am on Sunday 5 June to midnight on Friday 10 June, BBC Radio 3 will broadcast every single note of Ludwig van Beethoven. Every symphony, every quartet, every sonata

Like most of the BBC’s programmes, this will be available to internet listeners as an audio stream, and the Evening Standard says that the BBC will make it easy for listeners around the world to catch up with what they’ve missed:

These concerts will be […] “streamed” for a week on the website … Anyone from here to Hong Kong can slip a disk into the drive and download a set for keeps. Allow five minutes on broadband for Symphonies One to Eight, 10 minutes for the momentous Ninth.

I’m guessing this means mp3 downloads will not be available, which is a pity, but those who don’t mind listening to the lo-fi streams can try out Total Recorder.

Updated 8 June: It looks like they really meant it when they said ‘download for keeps’ — you can snarf the MP3s from Radio 3’s website now.

1 Comment

14 May 2005 10:34 am

The Moderator as Firewall

I read both the Instapundit and Scripting News regularly and so I’ve been following the little spat they’ve been having with some trepidation: how would Dave’s unique social skills fare against the John Kerry of the blogosphere?

On the other hand, this post from Matt Deatherage (linked from Scripting News) seems to capture the essence of why Dave doesn’t get why the Respectful Disagreement session went as badly as it did:

Dave’s […] never going to back down just because someone says so. Prove him wrong or sit down. People like Glenn Reynolds are quite unused to this concept.

Ad hominems aside, the “Prove him wrong or sit down” school thought of though works well in science and engineering, it works less well in policy where the ultimate proof of right and wrong may come generations later, if at all.

It works especially poorly when applied to a facilitator of debate, and this seems to be the crux of the problem which Dave blissfully ignores.

The impression I get from the blogs covering the session is that Dave brought this very same quality into a forum in which he was the moderator (or discussion leader). Now moderators can and do have partisan agendas, but the skilled ones steer the conversation and try to give views they support more play — not firewall ideas they don’t like.

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12 May 2005 10:16 am

Ajax and the Browser of Tomorrow

There’s been some buzz about ‘AJAX’ apps this week, and the one thing they got right is that — long term — proprietary web layers like Flex and Laszlo are dead in the water (the jury’s out on Avalon-based web apps simply because of Windows’ huge potential reach).

That said, AJAX is to rich web apps what C-based CGI apps were to web apps, period: an early, messy, easy way to give new features to users. I’ll be disappointed if in five years we’re still writing pages of Javascript just to get an autocomplete dropdown. If anything, the web of the future has already been imagined, and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Googles and Yahoos weren’t working towards it now (we know Microsoft already is, with Avalon’s blurring of the desktop app/web app boundary).

The interesting this is, the unsolved pieces of a standards-based rich web app become much more solvable given a popular open-source browser (check: Firefox), browser/plugin vendors working together (check: WHAT-WG and the plugin alliance) and a powerful compilable open-source runtime environment that binds it all together better than Javascript can (here’s where an open source Java — or a mature Mono — could help).

As Joel Spolsky noted, the pieces of the puzzle that remain unsolved are a modern widget set and compiled code that can access the browser DOM. To this I’ll add the problem of offline operation. The first two aren’t rocket science and are (say) 2 years work for a company like Google. The third is a deeper problem (and the fact that Alchemy is still not available publicly shows how far we have to go); however looking at Lotus Notes/Domino’s relatively successful replication feature we can say it is not unachievable.

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19 March 2005 10:33 am

Hitchhiker’s Movie UK Trailer

As a fan of the Hitchhiker’s Guide (on radio, books and TV) I was disappointed by the Internet trailers with their very out-of-place music and accents. However as Russel Beattie notes:

Speaking of American vs. British versions, I saw a site the other day which had UK trailers, which instead of ending with music ripped off from Men in Black, uses a version of the music found in the original TV show, which is actually quite catchy (and strange sounding). Nice to know that the movie is keeping in line with the original’s cross-Atlantic schizophrenia.

Indeed, the UK trailer seems much better indeed, and truer to the spirit of the low-budget but faithful BBC TV adaptation.


12 March 2005 10:26 am

Accepting Paypal just got easier for Indians

Using Paypal to pay for things has been quite easy for folk who have credit cards in India, but until now accepting payment using Paypal was impossible for Indian sellers without a US/UK bank account. With Paypal’s new “Request a Cheque” feature, this is set to change.

Now Indians can get rupee cheques mailed to them from Paypal on request (minimum $150 equivalent with a $5 service charge). This ought to be a big boost for e-commerce in India because it’s now a lot easier for most Indians to sell on eBay or over the web than it was previously.

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30 January 2005 9:05 pm

Blog Mela 2005, Issue 3

Blog Mela - tour the Indian blogosphere Hello and welcome to the 3rd mela of the year! Without much ado –

The Philadelphia radio jockeys who dialed and harassed an Indian call centre worker got a lot of ink from many Indian bloggers this week. Shanti wondered why many Indians cried foul about racism when the jockeys should really have been excoriated for extremely poor judgement and taste. Psybaba posits that the complainers are too touchy by half and that Indians are not blameless when it comes to racial stereotyping.

On the other hand, even as radio jockeys are bad-mouthing call centre workers, JK notes that globalization affects more than IT and auto-parts — IT enabled services now include teaching.

Amit Varma’s posts on the tsunami were predictably nominated, but instead of pointing to the individual posts I’ll direct you to indiauncut-tsunami.blogspot.com where he’s helpfully compiled all his despatches from the tsunami affected areas of Tamil Nadu. Read it all.

Ravikiran, meanwhile, has been wondering why the government of India is intent on destroying the traditional livelihood of the thousands of fishermen who dot India’s long coastline with its new Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) measure. Yazadjal notes that the CRZ is a classic top-down bureaucratic response and offers an alternative.

Yazad also has a set of interesting posts (part 1, part 2) that touch upon the nature of capitalism as demonstrated by the rise in prices of staple goods has been a second disaster for the already-suffering tsunami victims. Pradeep has had similar thoughts and concludes that no-holds-barred capitalism cannot be the answer.

The tsunami could not break Madras/Chennai’s stride though — it was business as usual in the city. Vinod G notes the ATP Chennai Open finished a few days ago to good crowds, even if the highlight of the match for certain sections of the audience seemed to be a certain shirt-changing player.

India signed an agreement this week to build a oil and gas pipeline into the country from Burma through Bangladesh as well as, interestingly, Iran. Given that any Iranian pipeline has to travel through Pakistan (especially troublesome Balochistan), JK notes that this is an excellent opportunity for India to boost its image and build relations in a traditionally volatile part of the world.

The other issue that got a lot of ink was a little too meta, but considering it went right under the radar of most Indian English blogs, I felt it was worth covering. Madhu’s decision to exclude Hindi blogs in the last blog mela (based, as he notes, on very pragmatic reasons) sparked off a lively (and not always very friendly) discussion in the Hindi blog world, one of the first results of which was Chittha-charcha (blog review), a weblog devoted to a monthly roundup of Hindi blogdom, with other Indic languages to follow. I hope they do well, but as I’ve noted before, it’d be great if Indian bloggers used the distributed intelligence inherent in the blogosphere to minimize linguistic differences instead of exacerbating them.

On the other hand, in a post that surely is (fair) fuel for the language wars, Patrix asks why Indians pre-judge other Indians based on their command over English. Even though English receives equal standing with approximately 23 other languages, it is somehow more equal than others.

The petition currently before India’s Supreme Court to remove ‘Sindh’ from the national anthem was received with disbelief and derision from many bloggers. I just hope no one tells the plaintiff about the German anthem, which has Deutschland über alles stretching all the way from Holland to the Baltic.

Praveen submitted a well-written post about the bearded thief, which stood out by not really fitting in anywhere. But I’m guessing every Indian town and village has its characters, and thaadi kallan here could really be from anywhere in the country.

Food-blogging (or should that be food-and-beverages blogging?): Madhu Menon in his avatar as chef-incardinate at Shiok Food leads us to steamed rice nirvana, and even presents a lovely dish to go along with it — orange-lemon chicken, mmm… and Ravishankar Shrivastava has a paean to tea, the lubricant that keeps most Indians moving throughout the day. Then again, Inkspillz writes about life at college with a beverage of another kind.

Finally, food for the soul: Jitendra Chaudhary is out to create an easily accessible Ramayana in Devanagri on the web. So far, he’s got Part I — “baalkaand” — online. Blogger’s group-blogging capabilities could come in useful here, so go volunteer if stuff like this interests you.

That’s all for this week, folks. Thanks to all who nominated entries, and apologies to those whose entries I could not include. The next mela will be held on January 21 at selectiveamnesia.org. You can view the schedule (and volunteer) here.

Update 15 Jan 9:45pm: Updated post in response to this.


15 January 2005 3:22 am

Tower of Babel

2005’s 2nd Blog Mela might have fizzled, but the Hindi Blog Mela equivalent, चिट्ठाचर्चा (BlogReview), has got off the ground with a link-rich collection of Hindi and English links. Good going!

On the other hand, I am not sure who’re behind this site, but I do wish that they’d consider a simultaneously translating their posts to English (like Merde in France). There are many Indians who cannot read Hindi (and even for those who can there are several challenges, but that’s the subject of another post). Also, if चिट्ठाचर्चा’s plans for other language blog reviews get off the ground, these other-language blogs would find a much wider pan-Indian audience if translations were available (and on blogs, poster/commenters’ distributed intelligence ensures that the cost of translations is low).

India is unique in being divided by language like no other nation in the world. It would be a shame if the Indian blogosphere added to this division instead of minimizing it.


12 January 2005 10:09 pm

Call for Entries — Blog Mela 2005, Issue 3

While we wait for the year’s 2nd mela to be put up at Nilesh’s place, all ye bloggers who wish their screeds included in the 3rd भारतीय blog मेला this year — direct your entries this way or comment below. Entries submitted ought to have an India angle in there somewhere (either that, or be scoop-memepool weird). Entries in Hindi are welcome because I can read the language. I’m not going to constrain submitters on ‘personal’ posts, but they have to be well-written to be included in the mela.

Entries for this mela should have been posted between Jan 8 through 14.

Update 12 Jan: The Mela will be up after 9pm GMT 14th Jan.


9 January 2005 4:26 am

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