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April 2006 — Monthly Archive

Don’t Use Registry Cleaners

Using Registry Cleaners are a Bad Idea (via S Anand). I agree — if your registry has enough flotsam in it to impair your system’s performance and you don’t know enough to hand-edit the registry, you’re probably better off restoring from backups (you do have backups, right?) than trusting random registry cleaners that promise a sparkly-fresh computer for $29.

If you’re concerned about easily restoring your system, you’d be better off with Windows System Restore or spending money buying Norton Ghost and backing up images of your system.

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28 April 2006 8:52 am

Caste Census in Corporate India

Indian industry begins a caste census to figure out exactly how diverse its workforce is. Of all the boneheaded issues Arjun Singh and the Congress could set on the nation’s agenda, this has to be one of the worst. This is on par with LK Advani’s Rath Yatra and VP Singh’s implementation of the Mandal Commission report as a ploy against the BJP. (And this one, like the Rath Yatra and the Mandal mess, will end badly for its perpetrators.)

If India’s leaders were serious about abolishing caste, they’d follow a socio-economic approach to identifying persons from disadvantaged backgrounds irrespective of caste and offer them primary through post-graduate scholarships and on-the-job training (if corporate India plays this right, this might happen yet — they could offer this as a quid-pro-quo for not having caste quotas forced on them).

Proponents of caste-based reservations point to affirmative action rules in place throughout the world. However India is unique in that it is probably the only country where affirmative action is practiced on a non-ethnic (a.k.a caste) basis. There are many problems with affirmative action on the basis of caste. It assumes all members of a particular caste are at the same level of development, which is not true. It does not provide any assistance aid to disadvantaged people belonging to other religions (caste being a peculiarly Hindu concept). And most fundamentally, it flies in the face of centuries of reform in Hinduism that sought to abolish caste.

Of course, abolishing caste would be very problematic for our more venal politicians (that’s almost all of them) for who people voting along caste (and religion) lines are a huge convenience: creating a culture of entitlement gives them proven ‘vote-banks’ without having to worry about things actual developmental issues. Hence we end up with the curious result of a caste census in the 21st century in the hallways of private industry in the second-hottest economy in the world. God save India.

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8:45 am

Virtual Worlds and Google Sketchup

The Scobleizer’s been raving about Second Life for some time now. I’ve been less than enthusiastic because to me Second Life has always been the CompuServe of online 3D worlds: interesting but ultimately proprietary and therefore ripe for being replaced by an standards-based competitor (much as the Web replaced CompuServe). Like Joshua Allen says, a virtual world should provide a single seamless virtual environment that’s not provided by any single vendor.

Today Google released a product that makes me wonder if they have any intentions to enter the virtual worlds biz. They released a product called SketchUp that lets users create 3D models. There’s a free version available for all and Google will warehouse your models for you. You can even download items into Google Earth.

What stops Google from offering a virtual-earth.google.com that is essentially a coordinate space for users to populate with their models? Well, creating 3D models is much harder than creating a webpage but much, much easier than creating a system that can handle and render a distributed virtual world (here’s a good FAQ on the subject). However, given the large number of PhDs who populate Google it wouldn’t be unreasonable to believe that they have made some progress on this.

Another possibility is that Google will eschew the distributed virtual world model for what I call the (far less satisfying but far more achievable) small closed spaces with portals model: multiple virtual worlds with distinct coordinate spaces each run by a single entity and traversable using portals. Such a model could be used to spice up many Google offerings, such as Google Groups’ mail list feature, IM, personal home pages and the nascent markets on Google Base.

And of course, irrespective of whether or not Google’s working on this, there is tremendous opportunity for startups and researchers to go out and create the next big thing online. The opportunity to do something creative is huge here.

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27 April 2006 8:57 am


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