Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Next Gen Search

Nice article in TIME about how the Search Engines are gearing up to help us in our ever-increasing quest to know. Some excerpts :

You land late in the evening in a city where you know nobody. You did not have time to book a hotel, your luggage has not turned up on the carousel--and the plane's air conditioning gave you a sore throat. What to do?

With your cell phone, you first Google your suitcase--it has a small implanted chip that responds to radio waves with a GPS locator--and it turns out that your luggage has been deposited 200 yds. away in the next terminal. As you walk over, you search for a hotel room; the screen of your cell shows you pictures of several hotels in your price bracket, with views from individual room windows. Your search engine gives you a list of pharmacies that are still open at this hour, and tells you that your favorite blues band will be playing at a festival in the city's park over the weekend. The engine can search your desktop back home, and it reminds you that a college friend e-mailed you a year ago to say he and his wife were moving to this city (you had forgotten). You decide to invite them to the festival.

the battle is on for the next generation of search, which will be smarter and more tailored to the individual, embrace video and music--and be accessible from any device with a chip. By 2010, search-engine advertising will be a $22 billion industry worldwide, up from an estimated $8 billion today

Want to know more about what you see in front of you? Boston-based Mobot has developed technology that maps the features in a picture taken with a cell-phone camera and matches it to a database of images. "Within a decade, it will be inconceivable that you lived in a world where you couldn't interact with the objects around you--taking a picture and getting back information about it or making a purchase--using a mobile device," says Mobot marketing vice-president Lauren Bigelow.

One of the fastest-growing search techniques is tagging, a grassroots phenomenon whereby users label websites with descriptive tags, building a network of knowledge dubbed folksonomy--a taxonomy of knowledge organized by ordinary folk.

One of the hottest and most controversial new areas is designing software that will get to know individuals' interests, mostly through their search history--the clickstream. Findory, a Seattle-based news-search site launched in January 2004, provides access to news stories and blogs. As you start searching for certain types of stories, the site gradually learns about your preferences, and the home page evolves to mirror your interests.

Search is "forcing us to reconsider what it means to be a public person," says John Battelle, co-founder of Wired and author of The Search, due out in September. "Search is everything and will be everywhere." Coming soon to a chip near you.

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Hindu has Google Ads now

The Hindu, India's National newspaper now has Google Adwords ads displayed in every page. And it has also got (the flashy, disgusting) banner ads! Mmm, becoming web savvy by the day but still can't find an RSS or XML feed button :-(

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Landmark Quiz 2005

This year's quiz threw quite a few surprises. For one, there were 2 quizmasters. As usual, Dr Navin Jayakumar started off with the prelims but after 20 questions introduced Derek O'Brien & said he'll continue! It was a lil' disappointing having Derek but then you don't have much of a choice. May be Mrs Hemu should rope in Basu for the next year.

As usual there was quite a crowd & around 900 teams participated. This was the most successful quiz for us (my cousin, my brother-in-law & myself) as we got 19 of the 40 prelim ?s rite. The first team cracked around 'late twenties' ?s (as its the regular Landmark custom never to give out the actual scores). Our performance wasn't bad by Landmark standards, I should say.

Other surprises - there wasn't no Dr Pravin Ghode as was the conspicuous absence of Arul Mani & his team. And Derek made some nasty changes to the quiz format as with the BQC. V V Ramanan was the Quizzer of the Year as expected.

Ok, the prelims Q&A below.

1. Who was the first to call Mahatma Gandhi as the Father of the Nation?
2. Which is the smallest Greek alphabet (it means miniscule in English)
3. Which islands that Marco Polo visited are named after a monkey god?
4. The rules of which game were formulated based on the front page of The New York Times.
5. Dilbert's boss is named as the PHB. Expand PHB.
6. In earlier days a part of a film was shown last for those who were late to come. How is this part of the film known as now?
7. The currency of Botswana is named Pula after the most precious thing that the nation's people consider as. What is Pula?
8. El Nino commonly occurs in which month
9. Who sang the song 'Kannum Kannum Nokia' in 'Anniyan'?
10. [Audio Clue] Answer was the English opening of Thiruvasagam
11. What euphemistic phrase (of two letters) was coined by the Lifebouy ads in the 1940s?
12. What geographic terms came into being for denoting the rising & setting of the Sun?
13. Connect question - Connect the animal that comes in 'Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets' & the colony set up in South Africa by Mahatma Gandhi (in 1912, not sure)
14. Who has been (one of) the sponsor(s) of Wimbledon since the tournament inception in 1902?
15. Which 2 gentlemen first translated Einstein's famous papers on relativity that appeared in from German to English?
16. What got created in Bombay from the debris of an explosion of a ship (in 1940s?)
17. Name the book that has the following quote as its opening - 'What is found here, may be found elsewhere. What is not found here, will not be found elsewhere'
18. What is the claim to fame of the book ''Fluid Concepts & Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought" by Douglas Hofstadter?
19. [Visual Clue] Identify the Indian connected with conservation of Tigers
20. [Visual Clue] Name the film based on a cult classic - Fountain Head.
21. What constitutes almost 70% of a banana?
22. Which of these is born blind a. Hare b. Rabbit c. None of these
23. Which path breaking Hindi film was released 30 years ago, this day?
24. Name the recognised Indian language whcih would come first when arranges alphabetically.
25. Who was TIME magazine's first non-American Person of the Year?
26. Which mineral takes its name from its Greek origins meaning color?
27. Name the vegetation that covers almost 20% of the Earth's land mass.
28. Name the Italian sauce which in Italian means salty.
29. Name the Asian country formed out of the largest number of refugess.
30. How is the Fighting Falcon aircraft better known?
31. Which TV show is advertised as being watched by over a billion people a week?
32. [Visual Clue] Identify the tennis player - Raphael Nadal
33. [Visual Clue] Identify the award - Emmy
34. [Visual Clue] Identify the scientist - Roger Penrose
35. [Visual Clue] Identify the politician - Narayan Rane
36. 'The Base' as its called runs terror in the hearts of all the law enforcement agencies across the world. How do we know it better?
37. Which European city was the first to host the modern Olympics twice?
38. If our Indian flag is to be displayed vertically (officially), what color should come at the right most? (Derek's poor clue - it isn't white)
39. Who was teh most famous private the 34th Infantry division?
40. Which word come from Greek that means "running back again"


1 S C Bose
2 Iota
3 The Andamans
4 Scrabble
5 Pointy Head Boss
6 Trialer
7 Water (Pula in the native tongue means rain)
8 December (coz Nino means son & the Christ connection)
9 Leslie Lewis
11 BO (Body Odor)
12 Orient & Occident
13 Phoenix
14 Slazenger
15 Bose & Megnath Saga
16 Nariman Point
17 Mahabaratha
18 First book sold on
19 Valmik Thapar
21 Water
22 Rabbit
23 Sholay
24 Assamese (there was another ? on the last language - Derek must have run out of questions - Urdu)
25 Mahatma Gandhi (another ? on Mahatma - who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1948? And the answer - no one, as the Mahatma was shot dead in 1948!)
26 Chromium
27 Grass
28 Salami
29 Afghanistan
30 F-16
31 Bay Watch
36 Al Qaeda
37 Paris
38 Saffron
39 Mangal Pandey
40 Palindrome

Friday, August 05, 2005

on bloggers & blogging

... probably the biggest challenge to blogs are those who cynically emulate their form without their soul.

An independent blogger's greatest asset, besides wit, energy, bravery, and doggedness, is sincerity. We read them to hear a credible independent voice -- not the shills of a corporation, lobbying group, a government agency, or a party. But now it seems that every auto company, PR firm, and politician is taking up blogging -- to sell us the same old pitches in a sleek new package. Some bloggers, unfortunately, are selling out and jumping on the payroll of corporations and political parties.

Read the above from a David D. Perlmutter article in

Are we bloggers selling out our soul? Is blogging turning into just another marketing medium? What about bloggers like Robert Scoble who though being in the Microsoft payroll & whose posts blatantly advertise MSFT products has his own views expressed on almost anything & everything and still get away with it?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Hm, its another one of those days where you get upset by unexpected news. Meera, one of the first critics of my writing left our company today. Says she's going to Banagalore for a change. Our relationship of around 4 years started when I forwarded my first article to be published in Sulekha to Govind & it got forwarded to her (Govind being Meera's mentor then). The nicest & the only outing we had is when Meera, Brinda & myself formed the team named 'Match Us If You Can' & took part in Landmark Quiz 2003. Its that time of the year again & I'll dearly miss my former mate. Hopefully we'll keep in touch.