Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Attended an interesting TiE-DC Crystal Ball event on The Future of Payments

Dickson Chu, Vice President, Global Merchant Services Product Management, PayPal, Inc described about how PayPal is a cool frontend to the legacy ACH (Automated Clearing House)system developed by banks to clear inter-bank transactions. They are now competing with credit card companies and allow customers to make electronic payment transactions.

Pragnesh Shah, President and CEO, Mobilians, Inc. talked about their desire to make a cell phone a credit card and a wallet.

Paul S. Dwyer, Jr, Co-founder and CEO, Viamericas Corporation is working on reducing the cost of immigrant remittances to families in their native countries. They leverage to technology to transmit cash quickly and inexpensively. Over 300bn are remitted annually from the developed world to developing countries. Wow!

Craig Underhill, EVP and Chief Lending Officer of Freedom Bank of Virginia moderated the disucssion.

I did learn that payments have two components: messaging and settlement. Also, one of the big innovation opportunities in payment processing is methods to reduce the high Interchange fee charged on credit card transactions.

Monday, November 26, 2007

One week with Kindle
I have had the device for a week now and I do like a lot of things about it. Overall, the Kindle is best suited for someone who travels a lot or for someone buying a lot of books that are not worthy of displaying on a bookshelf.

The BIG negative: The physical design is terrible making the device very unpleasant to use. Here is a very detailed description of what is wrong with the device from a design perspective.

I really hope that Amazon can find someone with experience to design v2.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Interesting Research Tool
Read Mapping the Crowd in Business Week. The article discusses a software (developed by Boston Consulting Group) that creates a map of who (people and organizations) is working on what problem. The map can be used to review the state of research in a field and to enable collaboration within or between organizations. The BW article has an interesting slide-show associated with it.

Very innovative approach to enable faster innovation!
Rules for Time Management
Here is how I ensure that I remain in control of my time:
- delegate and monitor (hire the right people!)
- ensure quality (reduces the need to reactively fix issues)
- prioritize and focus
- communicate frequently
Kindle Experiences
I feel that the device is well thought out and the user experience is very good. The main issue I have is that I constantly keep pressing the buttons on the two sides of the device. I feel that the buttons should be a bit smaller.

Transferring documents to Kindle
Emailed a Microsoft Word document and a jpeg file to the Kindle. They both showed up in about 5 minutes. The tables in the word documents were converted to text. Overall, I am quite satisfied with the function. It did accept a pdf even though the documentation does not list that as a supported format.
I am not very happy with the $0.10 I have to pay for receiving each of the documents.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

amazon kindle
Got my Kindle today and spent a couple of hours with it. It seems that the complete stock sold out in 5 1/2 hours (engadget post).

Overall, I am impressed and feel that it does have a shot at becoming the iPod for books.

What I love:
  • EVDO access: Seamless download of subscriptions I bought
  • Readability is great

What I hate:

  • Inability to load content from a source other than Amazon
  • Speed
  • Cost (especially for blogs)
ebook Reader tech specification Comparison on Wired

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Hello SecondLife
Vodafone has connected its cell service to the virtual worlds (engadget article). Voice and text can be accessed from within SecondLife. Cool!

I had recently seen an IBM demo on how a virtual replica of a data center in SecondLife could be used to monitoring. Here is a video of the virtual data center.

It is fascinating to see more and more virtual worlds getting connected to the real world.
Google does not look Invincible anymore
Two experiences this week make me realize that Google might have grown too big too fast and is having real issues related to this growth:
  1. Gmail eats e-mail: My wife found that, over the past several days, she has not received more than 5 e-mails at her Gmail address. I browsed the Gmail Support Group and found several people with the same complaint over the last few days. There was no communication from Google on the topic. Seems the issue hit the top at Digg a few months back. A blogger commenting on the issue pretty much said it all - you cannot expect much from a free service! I am thinking twice about deploying Google Apps within the Enterprise.
  2. Average search interface: Over the last 12 months I have made all my searches on Google. Yesterday, I was searching for a printer to get some business cards printed and was not happy with my search on Google. Used Yahoo and noticed that they have really improved the interface and the results were nearly the same. Well, I will remember to check multiple search engines the next time I am looking for something more than just a URL or an address for a restaurant.
Google seems to have taken the eye off the ball! Is Google growing fast to become a Microsoft? That will be a shame ...

Friday, November 16, 2007

Finally: Kindle
I usually do not post news on this blog ... but I am very interested in this space and have been waiting for a while for Amazon to jump into the game.

Here is the news story from Reuters: Amazon to unveil e-book reader on Monday

It seems that they will launch a WiFi (and EVDO?) enabled e-book reader and music player linked to their Unbox service. I am sure to try and get my hands one soon to check it out.

Link to engadget for picture and potential specs!

UPDATE (Nov 19, 2007): Link to the Newsweek cover story on Kindle.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Blue Cloud
IBM is jumping onto the bandwagon of cloud computing (Infoworld Article). Amazon has the lead with S3 and EC2 but it is clear that they will soon have lot of competition. When will Google open their computing platform to external programmers?

As expected, the key technologies being used in the initiative are Open Source: Xen for virtualization and Hadoop for parallel workload scheduling.

On another note, Xen seems to be gaining over VMWare - this week Oracle announce Oracle VM also based on Xen.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Interesting screenshots of Google Android Mobile Environment
Saw this slide show on FierceWireless. A relatively clean interface but I think it does not even come close to the iPhone interface. However, it is an open environment and I will love to see what developers will do with it!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A few other Disk Based Storage Vendors
In addition to Copan, I found a few other vendors in this space. I have not looked at them but the market seems to have a fair amount of competition:
Looking at the onerous eDiscovery requirements, disk-based backup and archive solutions are clearly the way to go.
Finding e-books on-line
I always wondered where I could get content for my iRex reader. Found an list produced by the folks at mashable today. Have not tried any yet but did not want to not find the list when I am ready to try. Here is the link: 20+ places for public domain e-books.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Disk-based tape storage
Looked at Copan today. They have developed a disk-based storage secondary system to replace tape drives for backups. They claim to have built a sophisticated power management system to reduce power requirements of vary large storage devices down to a very low level. Very interesting way to move archives and backups to disk. Finally, a technology that will help us reduce our dependency on tapes.

Interesting article: Is Enterprise RSS the Next Killer App?
I will keep an eye on more news on this topic, especially as we evaluate the feature set that is most appropriate for our Enterprise Collaboration Suite. The three Enterprise RSS reader vendors identified in the article are:
Attensa, NewsGator and KnowNow. The first tool we have implemented is Confluence, an Enterprise Wiki platform from Altassian.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

IBM research on the Future of Advertising (article on slashdot)
Links to the IBM article (The End of Advertising as We Know It), report PDF and summary PDF.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Google to offer Directions at the Pump
18 years ago, I was walking down a street in the Quartier Latin (Latin Quarter) area of Paris and I came across a roadside computer with a keyboard and a printer. You could type in any address in Paris and it would print you directions using the now obsolete Minitel system (pic: Minitel terminal France Telecom gave us to take home with our phone). As a geek, I was impressed. It even proposed correct spellings of street names for the tourists like me who just could not get a hang of the French street names. I then moved to NY and was surprised to not find a similar service in the US.

Finally, the Google is bringing the feature to the gas pump near you. Read on ...

It is too late for me as I can get all my directions from Google Maps on my blackberry.
Beyond WiMax
Came across this interesting Inforword article on Fast Mobile system called LTE (Long Term Evolution) or SAE (System Architecture Evolution). It is the next generation GSM technology that promises to deliver at peak 100 mbps downstream and 50 mbps upstream. The end user experience is expected anywhere between 2 - 10 mbps.

I love thinking about what users would do with that bandwidth on a mobile device - 3D animation, real-time search, ...

RedHat to be available on Amazon EC2
Came across this article on the topic. I am more and more interested in trying out the EC2 and S3 services from Amazon. Will like to start with non-mission critical infrastructure and DR site for some of the corporate applications. The first step will be to run all our applications on virtual machines. I believe that the EC2 virtualization service is based on Xen. I hope we can run our complete corporate infrastructure on a service like this in the next 5 years.

I met Jeff Barr (blog), Chief Evangelist of Amazon Web Services (blog) at a conference and we had a good chat about their web services strategy.

This is how we will buy infrastructure in the future!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

PCs being pushed aside in Japan
Came across this interesting AP story. I feel that highly mobile and user friendly narrow-function devices will over-take the PC as the primary computing devices for consumers. Increasing network bandwidth allows most of the transaction processing to occur in the the cloud and leaves the user devices to provide a great experience. Clearly, the generic multi-purpose PCs do not do the best job of that and users are increasingly attracted to narrow-function electronic devices.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Tablet PC from Apple? (article on Crave)
I have been recently trying out a whole lot of tablet devices:
  • Nokia N800: Very cool Linux based internet tablet. Lots of applications are available for this device. The next generation of this device, N810, has a pullout full keyboard.
  • iPhone: The best web-browsing experience on a small device
  • iRex Iliad: e-Ink reader with WiFi. The refresh rate (1Hz) is the big drawback. Good book reading experience.

I think that, with the right user interface, a tablet computer can be really fun to use. Will love to see what apple will do to make it a reality.

Connectbeam: Enterprise Social Networking Appliance
They seem to be getting a lot of traction. I am not sure if social networking can succeed within the Enterprise. Will like to give this or a similar device a try.