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Travel Essentials

Posted by hs on December 15, 2005

The gadgets I carry with me always, whereever I travel.

Click on the images to see a larger image. 

1. Apple Airport Express – Portable WiFi router

Very portable, easy to configure, acts as AirTunes base station also (you’ll shortly see below how that helps), and supports WEP, WPA, WPA-PSK. Just connect to the Hotel RJ-45 point and ready to go!

2. Patch Cable – A short Cat5e cable

Can be used to connect Airport Express (in case the hotel doesn’t provide one). Long enough to get the connection done, short enough to be un-messy

3. Nokia Cellphone Charger

Keeps the cellphone going on and on and on …

4. TravelSound 200 Speakers – Music on the move

Don’t be fooled by their size. Very compact, yet can be pretty loud. Run off a 5V DC adapter, or 4 AA batteries. Complete with wide-stereo mode and Volume normalizer

5. Sony Battery Charger – Keeps the juice flowing

Can charge 4 AA cells in 4 hours, automatic cut-off. Compact, easy to carry. 100-240v, 50/60Hz compatible

Keywords: Apple Airport Express, Patch Cable, Nokia, Cell Charger, Sony Battery Charger, Rechargeable batteries, AA, Speaker, TravelSound, Creative, Interner, RJ-45, WEP, WPA, WPA-PSK

Posted in Gadgets | 2 Comments »

AOL – A Time-less Saga?

Posted by hs on December 14, 2005

Steve Case (AOL Founder) has joined Carl Icahn in calling for breakup of the Time Warner Company (which owns, among other things, AOL, Road Runner, CNN, Time Warner Cable & Time Magazine). In his article in Washington Post on Sunday (It’s Time to Take It Apart), Steve says:

“Although I played a key role in bringing AOL and Time Warner together six years ago, it’s now my view that it would be best to “undo” the merger by splitting Time Warner into several independent companies and allowing AOL to set off on its own path”

He goes onto say

“Given that Time Warner failed to capitalize on AOL’s potential during a period when it owned 100 percent of AOL, it seems doubtful that a scenario in which it has a lesser, but still controlling, stake will work better”

The logic for de-merger may look good, especially in this era of focus on ‘core competencies’, and Time Warner may indeed get a good value for its AOL unit from one of major suitors – Microsoft, Yahoo or Google, the question remains about the basic veracity of the arguments put forth by Steve Case.

Notice the argument where Time Warner is blamed for not being able to capitalize on AOL’s value. In 2000, although the union was termed as ‘merger’, it was pretty clear that AOL was taking over Time Warner, and indeed, AOL guys ran the show in the merged entity for the first few months after the merger. And having admitted to playing a key role in the merger, Case should take part of the blame for not having failed to achieve the merger objectives and not having done anything earlier.

To cite Steve’s argument for an independent AOL

Could a stand-alone AOL stage a comeback? Five years ago, most people thought Apple was a tarnished brand destined for declining market share and irrelevance. But some (including its co-founder Steve Jobs) saw the potential there, and a spirit of innovation has returned to the company to produce breakthrough products. Apple is now more valuable — and more relevant — than ever. Liberated to pursue its own future, AOL could have an Apple-like renaissance

Leave aside comparison to Apple, AOL is increasingly losing its relevance in the market. In dial-up market, it is facing stiff competition from companies like NetZero, whereas the DSL business itself is struggling hard against the Cable companies. Thus the ISP part of AOL might really not gain much from a demerger, save for some minor changes that might result from not having to accomodate sibling Cable services from the Time Warner stable.

The most valuable assets for AOL today would be the AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) and the AOL.com portal. It was mainly the AOL.com portal that MSN, Yahoo, Google were after. AIM has a large locked-in audience, but they have been rather late to the Internet Phone service game. Yahoo & MSN have provided similar service for a long time now, and newcomers Google & Skype are also making their presence felt.

Rather than taking the company apart, Time Warner should increasingly cross-leverage its media strength. With strengths in various media channels (TV, Internet), it has the wherewithal to compete against the new media companies.

Keywords: Time Warner, AOL, Breakup, Steve Case, Carl Icahn, CNN, Time, Time Warner Cable, Merger, Split, MSN, Yahoo, Google, Bid, NetZero, Cable, DSL, AIM, AOL.com, Skype

Posted in Biz, Economics, Tech/Biz | 1 Comment »

Printer Economy Update

Posted by hs on December 13, 2005

Continuing from a previous post: Patent’ed Profits vs. Freedom of Choice

Some numbers on the printer market economics (sourced from the article Ever Wonder Why Ink Costs So Much? in BusinessWeek Nov 14, 2005 issue)

  • Cost of 3rd party refilling (e.g. Cartridge World) vs. vendor-sold (e.g. HP) cartridges: 40-60%
  • Ink inside a new cartridge from HP, Lexmark or Canon costs more per ounce than Chanel No. 5 or Dom Perignon
  • Global market for printer ink: $59 billion
  • Refiller share: 5% (2004); Knock-off brands: 18% (2004)
  • Estimated market share (non-vendor) in 2009: 31% (source: Lyra Research)

No wonder people like Cartridge world are expanding so fast. From 1 store in Australia to more than 1,000 stores across 30 countries (including 275+ in North America) raking in $300m annually in less than 10 years is surely a good business by any standards.

Keywords: Printer, Ink, Cost, BusinessWeek, Cartridges, HP, Cartridge World, Lexmark, Canon, Printer Ink Market, Refiller, Refilled Cartridges

Posted in Computing, Economics, Gadgets, Tech/Biz | Leave a Comment »

HappyNews.com

Posted by hs on December 12, 2005

CNN is carrying a news item on HappyNews.com (Website focuses on happy news) – a site which, true to its name, focuses only on happy news.

Credo of HappyNews.com is

“Real News, Compelling Stories, Always Positive” is what you’ll find on HappyNews.com.

We believe virtue, goodwill and heroism are hot news. That’s why we bring you up-to-the-minute news, geared to lift spirits and inspire lives. Add in a diverse team of Citizen Journalists reporting positive stories from around the world, and you’ve got one happy place for news. …”

Keywords: HappyNews.com, News, Happy News, Positive

Posted in General, linkOut | Leave a Comment »

Life’s a Party

Posted by hs on December 11, 2005

If you believe that the life has give you a lemon, you should make lemonade and wait for someone whose life gave them a vodka and have a party!

Posted in Rant | Leave a Comment »

Bangalore back to roots … er, ground

Posted by hs on December 11, 2005

The current state government in Indian state of Karnataka (whose capital is Bangalore) has been trying to project itself as being pro-‘common man’ by increasing performing anti-IT actions.

After numerous outbursts from Chief Minister (Head of State Government) and his alliance partners, here’s another one: Renaming Bangalore. For the city which is (correctly) termed as ‘Silicon Valley of India’, instead of improving infrastructure (which sucks big time!), focus is now on frivolous stuff. The latest proposal to rename Bangalore to Bengaluru – would it solve the infrastructure and safety woes that have been plaguing Bangalore for the past few years – lack of security, no new roads, no flyovers, magnificent traffic jams?

Keywords: Bangalore, Bengaluru, Rename, Infrastructure, India, Silicon Valley, Government

Posted in Rant | Leave a Comment »

Google Desktop tweaked

Posted by hs on December 7, 2005

Google Desktop has now been tweaked as a workaround against the IE CSSXCSS vulnerability.

Keywords: Google Desktop, Bug, Vulnerability, IE, CSS, CSSXCSS, Cross Site Scripting 

Posted in Bug/Vulnerability, Internet | Leave a Comment »

Achieving Electronic Privacy

Posted by hs on December 6, 2005

Organizations are requiring ever-increasing amounts of information on individuals, linking it all up using a single identifier (SSN in US, NI in UK, and similar identifiers elsewhere). Although having more information helps in better decision making, it impinges on individual liberty. And having all information linked up also makes it a high-value target.

David Chaum presents an approach based on digital credentials in his article Achieving Electronic Privacy that appeared in August 1992 issue of Scientific American. The method involves using digital credentials that can be verified by the recieving organization without actually revealing the identity of the user. This helps users protect their individual liberties, while lowering costs for the organizations by providing them with authenticed information.

Use of Blind Signatures as proposed by Chaum and his colleagues provides for security & reliability in transactions while rendering them untraceable unless the user actually wants them to get traced.

Widespread use of this method can reduce a lot of data sharing hassles and resulting complications associated with them. Since the organizations can authenticate the identity of users without actually having to store any data, the chances of identity theft might also decrease.

Keywords: Electronic Privacy, Scientific American, Information, Individual Liberty, SSN, NI, David Chaum, Blind Signatures, PKI, Identity Theft

Posted in Internet, Tech/Biz | Leave a Comment »

Making Good Presentations

Posted by hs on December 4, 2005

Almost all of us make presentations day-in and day-out, but have you paused and thought if the last presentation you made really made an impact?

Here are a bunch of links to good articles/resource pages that I came across. Some of them focus on the most (ab)used tool, PowerPoint but again, its the content and display that matters, PowerPoint is just a tool which can be used to heights of creativity/absurdness.

An ongoing discussion on 43Folders on personal presentation tips. And a old (started circa 2001), but current thread on Edward Tufte‘s site: How to make presentations: techniques, handouts, display technologies

A good blog on presentation techniques is Presentation Zen that carries an excellent comparison of Gates & Jobs respective presentation styles: Gates, Jobs, & the Zen aesthetic – it is really possible to make technical presentation to technical audience without using ‘bullet-points’!

Chris Campbell of ParticleTree has posted a compendium of PowerPoint and Presentation Tips. A couple of posts from Eirik Solheim‘s blog: How to avoid making boring presentations and Presenting Software.

And then, there’s a really good essay by Seth Godin: Really BAD Powerpoint (and how to avoid it) [PDF].

PS: Give it away give it away give it away now … – a thought provoking article, related to Guy Kawasaki‘s “Eat like a bird, poop like an elephant”.

Keywords: Presentation, Good Presentations, Content, PowerPoint, Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, Edward Tufte, Bullet point, Presentation Zen

Posted in Biz, linkOut | 3 Comments »

Holiday Gift Ideas

Posted by hs on December 4, 2005

A cool gift for Lawyers and other billable-types – The Billable Hour Timepieces from http://www.thebillablehour.com/.

While still on lawyers, here is an interesting blog: the [non]billable hour by Matt Homan. Although the blog seems to be focussed on lawyers, most of the ideas presented lend themselves to all professions (with necessary tweaks, of course).

Keywords: Lawyers, Gift, Matt Homan, Billable Hour, Timepiece, Improvement Ideas, Personal Improvement

Posted in General, linkOut | 6 Comments »