News Corp, NBC & Other Vs Google – The Online Video war

The media giants are to launch an online video service that would compete with Google’s YouTube. The service would contain Movie & TV clips stuff plus clips that users can modify & share with others (whatever that means). What makes all this even more interesting is that Yahoo, Microsoft & AOL are also involved in the deal.

The attempt here is to control the distribution of video and therefore the advertising dollars that go with. Clearly these folks are not happy with the potential that Google might have a stranglehold on online advertising.

Very interesting, Search is a lost game for all the others, no reason why Online video should go the same way. Nothing better for the consumer that a good ‘ol slugfest amongst these giants. May the best one win!.

Will Scrabulous be saved?

Perhaps this was meant to happen, Hasbro, the makers of the wildly popular board game Scrabble has sent out a notice to the 2 brothers in Calcutta, India who have created a hot online version of the game called ‘Scrabulous‘ which boats of thousands of devoted Jasmin live users in Facebook.

I for one, am a big fan of Scrabulous and perhaps this is one of the few reasons why I continue to visit Facebook, coz after a point in time one gets truly sick of getting sheep thrown at them, vampires and Flixster movies.

Hope there is a last minute deal that can make all of the Scrabulous fans and the folks who made the app happy.

My Zooomr wishlist

I have been using Zooomr for a couple of months now and thanks to the good folks there (Kristopher Tate , Thomas Hawk & others), I was first upgraded to a Pro account for free and then Pro4Life (wow … how cool is that).

Today, I chanced upon the Official Zooomr blog to see Kristopher’s post & video on Zooomr Mark III, their upcoming new release. I wish them good luck and hope Zooomr becomes ‘THE BEST’ photosharing site in the world with jasminelive features all of us love, want & use. Given below are a couple of thoughts on what they can do to make me happy!

Edit items as a batch – useful when you have done a bulk upload using jUploader and then want to edit the Title, Tags etc. The feature to edit these in jUploader is very smartly hidden and can be discovered only by chance !!!

Photoblog view – I love Zooomr and want to use this as a Photoblog. While the features of Trackbacks & Comments are great, I want a simpler & neater template that can have a large image (a la a typical photoblog). Sadly, while there are so many photo sharing sites around in livejasmin cyberspace, there really isnt any that can can suit the needs of an avid photoblogger (the accent is on showcasing work and narrating tales about pictures & not typical photo sharing).

Flickr importer – I have tons of pics on my Flickr account which I would love to move over to Zooomr. Some simple way of automating this (using Flickr APIs) would be cool.

Twitter a story, a ballad, a novel ?

A very interesting thought came up last night when I was getting back home form work and listening to Tom Merrit, Molly Wood & Leo Laporte on CNET’s Buzz out Loud podcast. The folks on the podcast discussed how novels in SMS lingo is rave in Japan and then tossed up a concept wherein Twitter can be used (by one or more users) to serially micro-blog a novel. The challenge of course is that every sentence of your can only contain 160 characters. I find this entire concept rather cool and am willing to give this a shot. For one, it helps me find a creative vent to my energies and also helps because while I have always wanted to write a Livesexchat book, I dont quite have the patience for that.

Looks like BOL crew have started something off. Keep checking it and if you want to micro-blog a story with me leave a comment here.

India @ 60

Took me quite a while to get to making a blog post, but it was more the occasion I confess.

My initial thoughts on today, the 60th anniversary of India’s independence are rather mixed, primarily because at first sight this is passing on as just another holiday, a day to watch the flag being hoisted in the apartment, read special features in the newspaper and beyond all this, perhaps nothing more significant. Which is so unfortunate, because through the day I have been repeatedly mulling over the significance of the day and the more I think about it, the more privileged I feel, here are a few reasons why …

That India actually made it to 60 as a Free nation is a enigma and one wonders whether it is because of Democracy or despite Democracy ! Consider the odds against it, Illiteracy, Corruption, Poverty leading to a huge Rich-Poor divide, Class divisions, Religious conflicts, Dynastic politics, this nation and its people have seen it all, borne it all and move on in rather typical India resolve. Whether that resolve is the by-now pathological ‘Chaltha Hai’ or a more deeper divine belief in one’s Karma & Dharma is something I am not able to understand, but it is there and it has got us this far despite all odds. Perhaps it is the same flavor of us as a Jasmin live collective that took us onwards through ages of foreign invasions and loot.

India is 60 today, against all odds … & onwards we go !

Isn’t it amazing that today, we boast of the world’s largest Democracy (with Universal Adult Franchise) and one that works (atleast true to Democracy’s original purpose), now whether the people that this process elects are the merited enough to make laws and rule the country can be debated (& often quickly concluded that all of them are crooks, which again becomes the subject of another debate), besides we also boast of a truly Independent Judiciary and a Free Press. The 3 pillars of People’s Choice, Fair Justice and the Watchdog Press is an asset that the past 60 years of Free India have created and on these pillars would the future be made.

India is 60 today, against all odds … & onwards we go !

Lets take another cut at this and compare ourselves with Pakistan (I can hear some of you reading this squirm at the very comparison … and if that is the case, then I rest my case), which became an Independent nation exactly a day before we did and look at where we are today and where they are. 2 nations both bound by the common trauma of Partition and a common reason to hate the enemy in Kashmir are today tending to be poles apart in terms of the basic factors that a nation should be made of. Pakistan’s recent history has been pock marked by sustained spells of Military rule, Martial Law, Coups, Religious extremism and an overall sense of middle age backwardness as contrasted with India’s appeal of a stable democracy, Large English speaking middle class and the world’s IT backroom boys. I am completely certain that for a comparable set of the population (say the middle class) in both India & Pakistan, the state of living both within the home and outside might be more or less the same (we all live in the same world and face the same problems), yet as a nation India and Pakistan are poles apart and the recent actions by Gen Musharaff in stifling the Judiciary and threats to impose Emergency are only making the difference more stark.

India is 60 today, against all odds … & onwards we go !

That said, 60 is but a minor instant in a Nation’s lifetime, there is a lot of Labour left to do and so much more to achieve as a nation. Education, Health Care, Infrastructure, Rightful Equal Opportunity, Access to Capital and Sustainable use of Energy are but a few of the money strides we need to take as a Nation. It is great to be here this moment and feels even better to head on onwards, odds or otherwise!

Looking back at this year

So, this year is just about coming to an end, thought I’d put together a few thoughts on what this year meant for me and the world in general …

The big event ofcourse was the birth of the pearl of our lives, Pranav, our Son. Our excitement knew no bounds when Nandhu did finally deliver him at 11.03 pm that night. Naked innocence, Non complex life and a heart of full desire, he did enter this world and will certainly teach a thing or two about Life and Love. The years ahead are going to be full of challenges and as parents we are eager to provide for him a life that he someday would perhaps thank us for. It is very easy (& I did succumb to it), to project our desires and wants, things that we perhaps craved to do when we were much younger on him and to form our own vision of ambitions for him, but on second thought, it is afterall his life and he would be the ultimate judge of what he wants to do with it. Care, Love and Nurture are things that we would provide to him to the best of our abilities and more and hopefully he would learn that his is a precious life and one to be lived fully and to the fullest.

Further away, the other big event was ofcourse the Football World Cup in Germany. A mega event and a success by any measure. Along with billions of people across the Earth, I too was deeply immersed in the travails and travels of many a team. The English team, that I so backed disappointed, but am so glad that the team I hated, Portugal did not get all that far :-) . All credit to the Azzuri for their victory and perhaps Zizou would live to regret his moment of madness for the rest of his life.

The travails of the Indian cricket team has been documented way beyond what a human can read & digest, but if there is one thing that I would remember the year for, it would be the year in which the ex-great, Sachin Tendulkar plumbed to depths that perhaps he alone would need to explain to the people someday.

On the Technology front, YouTube undoubtedly changed the face of Internet forever and made Video a fundamental data type on the Internet. While John C Dvorak might have issues with Time Magazine’s choice of ‘You’ as the Person of the year, the fact remains, that this year is indeed the year in which the Web finally became the Read & Write web (something that Tim Berners Lee intended originally anyways).

In the realm of Global politics, George Bush’s misadventure in Irag continues to get worse (sacrificial lambs such as Don Rumsfeld is not going to help George Bush cleans himself of his sins) and Iran and North Korea’s Nuclear Sabre-rattling and the United State’s response to this were rather humorous to watch !

The Indian Stock markets hit record highs and many a man made his millions. While I remain an optimist that there is something fundamentally right about the Indian economy, I still remain a doubter on the valuations floating around and I await the next crash. Call me a Bear if you will … but we have miles to go before we run (sleep is a long long way off). But my country, Hope is something we have but that is not enough, we need to try harder, the marathon has just begun. We are NOT going to be a leading economy riding on the Outsourcing wave alone.

I will leave the thoughts for 2007 for a later day, but would sign-off for now by stating that there is an opportunity in front of all of us to make this world a better place and the first step starts with us.

Lost in LOST

Well, yeah ! It is kinda of late in the day for me to blog about Lost, the superhit TV show, but I will anyways do it.

So it happened that I was browsing through eBay India the other day and came across this listing for the complete original LOST – Season 1 7 DVD set up on auction and with some thought I immediately bid on it and won the damn auction. From then on, I must confess that I have been hooked completely to the adventures of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. The storyline, the plots within plots, the suspense, the mystery, the way characters evolve, the way almost everyone has a dark side that get revealed. I find it all totally engrossing.

Just got done with the complete Season 1 and cant wait to get my hands on the Season 2 discs !!!

Hats off to the makers & cast of Lost. This is one TV series that is a MUST MUST watch !

Train ticket on SMS

I had heard of IRCTC offering users the facility of booking long distance train tickets on SMS, but dismissed it as a fancy concept because one of the more involved activities in buying a long distance train ticket in India is to figure out availability of seats on the trains on the specific dates required, which would at best be a usability nightmare on a mobile phone.

But this is something amazing, heard about it briefly on FM radio on the way to work this morning and later at work, a colleague pointed me to the news article. The concept involves enabling commuters to book local train tickets in Mumbai using a mobile phone through SMS. As against a cumbersome process of standing in long queues to book tickets, you just have to SMS your origin & destination stations to a number (along with something called a customer id) and bham! a return SMS will give you a confirmed ticket (with a time stamp and unique transaction reference code) and the amount will be debited from a pre-paid account (which I assume is being viewed as a proxy for the ticket coupons which commuter currently buy in advance and validate before every journey).

It would be much better if the amount is charged directly to user’s mobile bill (or pre-paid balance), which would ensure greater acceptability.

The thing I like about this is that, here is a potential application that offers a fantastic direct benefit to the users, saves time and is easy too use. Nations such as Japan might think of fancy chips and smart card embedded in mobiles for such transactions (Felica), but in India, a vast majority of users (of various literacy level) have figured SMS out and any potential mobile application needs to be SMS enabled to succeed (India still has a long way to go in terms of GPRS/3G penetration in networks and also handsets).