Monday, December 08, 2008

Mobile RFID in India

Today Microsoft announced the general availability of its BizTalk RFID Mobile integration software, which it released in beta form in April. The software enables mobile computers and other devices that run either the Windows Mobile 5.0 or Windows CE 5.0 operating systems to integrate data directly into Microsoft's BizTalk server environment.

BizTalk RFID Mobile empowers businesses by giving their workers tools to make them more efficient and more productive," Microsoft senior product manager for application platform Paul Sanford told RFID Update. "We are seeing very diverse adoption, both by industry and size of company."

As an example, Sanford described how RiteCare, a pharmacy chain in India, used the beta version of BizTalk RFID Mobile to support its growing operations. The 10-store chain uses RFID to identify incoming shipments at its warehouse, cross dock shipments to stores when goods are needed quickly, and to manage warehouse inventory. Working with S3Edge, a Microsoft partner in India, RiteCare created an RFID system that went from pilot to production in just four weeks.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Free Group SMS and Google SMS Search

I am going to talk about 2 interesting but India specific Google offerings here. Although Indians don't SMS/text as much as they used to in good old days, there are reasons to chear courtesy Google. These 2 SMS services are called:

1. Google SMS Channels - Here you can create a Channel or SMS Group and all the subscribers will be getting the channel content by SMS for free. Now this Channel can pull content from Google News and Google groups so once you point your channel to any group or news, you will be getting new content automatically by SMS. Cool isn't it? But it does not end there - You can even pull content from your or any blogger powered blog or any RSS source, but the best part is that you can use the channel to send same SMS message to all your friends and contacts. You can just create a personal channel and invite all your contacts to it and when you post message to channel via web or by SMS it will reach everybody. So practically you can now send multiple SMSes at the cost of one sms or even for free if you use web option. Try now

2. Google SMS Search - Google SMS search is plain, simple and straight-forward like all things Google. You just need to send you search query as sms to Google India No.  9-77-33-00000 and they send you search results by sms immediately. I have tried it and it really works and here is one more Google advantage for you - since this is a normal 10 digit no and not a special no, probably you will be charged for sending only a normal sms, which is as low as 10 paise with some SMS plans. So probably Google is not looking to rip you off by having a special 4 or 5 digit no. 

BTW you can use Google search for many useful things beside search like - cricket scores, Indian Railways train schedules & ticket status, PNR, horoscopes, movie showtimes, restaurant information and more. For more info you can go here.

Oh I forgot to tell you, you can subscribe to my blog by SMS from here :-)

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chibu is 1 yr. old

I am so happy to see my little baby girl grow. She turned 1 this 24th.

Since my wife - Pragati is still bravely fighting a very rare form of cancer called Epithelioid Sarcoma, we didn't have a big party.

But our family and few close friends joined us at our home in celebrating her birthday. It was a really special day and we embraced this little happiness thrown our way after a long - long time with open arms.

She is really a blessing in our life, something which keeps both of us going in these tough times. We wish her all the happiness in life to come. 

In the picture on left you can see her opening gifts with a curoisity which only a child can posses. For more pics click here.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Mithun on TV

My younger brother, Mithun was on national TV for a small time recently. Included below is video from NDTV, top news channel of India. It basically reports how recent pirate attacks are not deterring new marine engineers from joining their duties on ships. My brother Mithun is one of them. For those who don't know him, his is the last interview by the correspondent in the video. 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Thumb Impression goes mobile

Just came across very interesting article in The Hindu Business Line which is a classic case of technology working at grassroot level.

This articles mentions how Micro Finance Institutions operating in rural areas of India are a using mobile application to authorise financial transactions for villagers.
This unique mobile application actually uses mobile camera for fingerprint recognition, really helpful for rural people who sometime lack basic ability to sign any kind of document and even if they can a finger print is always better then a signature as it can't be forged.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Nagpur among Best cities for IT-BPO growth

Rediff today carries a story about India's 15 best cities for IT-BPO growth. It mentions major cities like Mumbai, Pune, Chennai beside emerging cities like Nagpur, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Bhuvneshwar etc.

Rediff has this to say about Nagpur:

"Strategically located, Nagpur is the largest city in central India with excellent educational institutions that churn out a fine talent pool. The city's impressive infrastructure, new supporting governmental policies, an enabling and peaceful business environment, availability of a huge knowledge pool, etc have seen a number of IT firms setting up base here.

A proposed special economic zone that will house a major international cargo hub and also information technology companies will further boost the city's allure for IT firms.

At Rs 298,000, Nagpur is the 10th most prosperous city in terms of average annual household income in India."

I love my Nagpur.

Google Chrome: Not just another browser

Google released beta version of its open source web-browser last week. The browser is called Chrome and those interested in contributing to it or having a look at its code can head here.

First thing which I noticed in Chrome is that it is simple and straight-forward like most of other Google Products/Website. So there is no menu bar, no toolbar and tabs utilise conventional title bar area. All this leaves you with more browsing space, which I think is really innovative.

Chrome uses code from other browsers like Apple's Safari and Mozilla Firefox so you find many useful features from other browsers already present in Chrome. Chrome is loaded with many interesting and useful features like:

  1. Floating tabs - You can drag and rearrenge tabs, convert tab into window and move tabs between multiple Chrome windows.
  2. Tab does not crash Browser - Since tabs run in separate memory process of their own, if one tab crashes, it does not take the whole browser and other tabs down with it. What a relief :-)
  3. Incognito Mode - If you don't want to leave trace of your browsing in history, cookies etc, you have the Incognito window to help you out.
  4. Application Shortcuts - With the increasing use of many websites as applications, you can create their Shortcuts on your desktop so when you want to open them next time, you can just double-click on their icons and they will open like an application installed on your desktop. You need to try it to really understand how useful this feature is.
For a complete understanding of all the features please visit this link and to read Google's official reason on why they chose to do a browser, click here.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Lets talk about next Windows OS Version

Microsoft folks have started a new blog specially dedicated to next version of Windows OS or Windows 7. As par the welcome post on their blog -

The Engineering Windows 7 blog, or E7 for short is hosted by the two senior engineering managers for the Windows 7 product, Jon DeVaan and Steven Sinofsky. Jon and Steven, along with members of the engineering team will post, comment, and participate in this blog.
I appreciate opening of this two-way communication channel by Microsoft. Its interesting to know that over 1000 developers are working on next Windows version. They basically have 25 different teams and each team consists of around 40 developers.

They are openly inviting everybody to share their views, suggestions, complaints and needless to say that people have already posted comments saying how slow windows is and how often it crashes.

Microsoft has not disclosed much details about Windows 7 as of now, however some supposedly leaked screenshots of it are already doing the rounds, its also expected that next Windows will support iPhone like Multi-touch as well as Touch-feedback, a feature which vibrates screen or give feedback in any other form when you touch the screen.

If you are looking for genuine information about Windows 7, then MS has two significant events planned this fall. The Professional Developers Conference (PDC) on October 27 and the Windows Hardware Engineering Conference (WinHEC) the following week.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Anyone for a Rs. 31000 ($750) iPhone?

I use Vodafone India as my mobile service provider and I have pre-registered for iPhone on their website a while back. Airtel and Vodafone start selling iPhone in India on 22nd August which is just 2 days from now.

I today got a sms and an email from Vodafone that my wait is over and I can deposit advance to get iPhone within a few days. However I almost dropped my existing phone (Treo 680) after reading the price for the iPhone. They want to make me poorer by Rs. 31000 for 8GB model and want a whopping Rs. 36100 for 16GB model. Is this some kind of joke???

Well I think they have managed to do an unthinkable here. A lot of rumours were doing round till today about the would be price for iPhone in India. Some guessed it to be around Rs. 8000, as that's how much an iPhone with contract costs in US. Some guessed it to be around Rs. 25000, but nobody thought that they will be beating all the expectations and sell the iPhone at such high prices. Well good luck to Apple, Vodafone and Airtel, but I am not going to buy iPhone for that price.

I also doubt that Airtel and Vodafone are going to sell unlocked iPhone in India, if they are then its defeats the purpose of selling iPhones via an operator. And if its a locked model then why don't they just bundle the phone with some service contract and subcidise the phone? I think a bundled but cheaper iPhone will be a win-win situation for everybody inclusing consumers, operators and manufacturer.

May be they are just trying to cash in on the hype and once the dust settles down, they are either going to lower the prices substantially or start offering cheaper iPhone bundled with a data/service plan.

I have been on Vodafone for 6 yrs. now and intend to stay on for a few more years to come, but I guess Vodafone is not much interested in keeping its loyal customer base intact by offering them yearly service contracts bundled with a cheaper iPhone. All said and done my wait for iPhone is still not over :-(

Monday, August 11, 2008

India Strikes Gold in Beijing

Abhinav Bindra created history today by becoming first Indian to win Olympic Gold Medal for any individual event. He won the Gold in Men's 10m Air Rifle Shooting event. Also this is India's first Olympic Gold since 1980.

Bindra has done his country proud and had instantly become a hero in India. He has recently started blogging at -

Check out news about his Gold Medal win at the Official Olymics website here.

While this single Gold Medal may not take us anywhere in this Olympic but I would like to believe that this is the sign of things to come. It sure is.

Amitabh Bacchan writes on his blog - "We are so proud of you and so delighted to have made every Indian walk a little taller ! Thank you Abhinav, and more glory and success to you. As a dear friend from Mumbai put it - ‘after almost a century and 2 billion births an Indian wins his first individual gold at the Olympics’."

So please join me in congratulating Abhinav on his great feet and lets start celebrations :-)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Book iPhone in India

Update on 8th August: Airtel starts selling iPhone from 22nd August 08.

iPhone's official launch is getting near and to fuel the excitement both Vodafone and Airtel have started booking for iPhone.

To book iPhone on Vodafone click here or sms IPHONE to 56789.

To book iPhone on Airtel click here.

For those who still don't know much about iPhone, click here to have a 360 view of it.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Gphone is here...

While I am waiting to finally lay my hands on iPhone when its launched in India in a few months, I am also very excited about what I would like to call a Gphone.

Technically there is nothing called a Gphone, instead there is a mobile OS called Android released by Google. T-Mobile USA is expected to launch first Android device this year and reportedly its manufactured by HTC which is numero uno windows mobile device manufacturer. Interesting :-)

Android Community released first live images and videos of Android demo phone last month and I was really impressed by the great user interface on that phone. In many ways its looks quite similar to iPhone's interface where you can do most of the stuff using your finger, but you expect Google to do some innovations, don't you? And that's what Google did.

I really liked the phone unlock option on the demo phone, you can just slide your finger in a preset pattern to unlock the phone. They also demonstrated how the built in compass in the phone lets you pan-around the location based images just like you are into some kind of virtual tour of that location. That's very cool I must say. Anyway to check out all the images and videos you need to click here.

So go ahead and see for yourself what Google has to offer and let me know what do you think.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Blogs by Indian Celebrities

Blogging scene in India is suddenly hotting up with many celebrities joining in the bandwagon. Some recent posts from Amitabh Bacchan and Aamir Khan on their respective blogs have been in news for all the wrong reasons. Anyway I welcome these celebrities to blogosphere and wish that more and more people take up blogging and connect with each other on one to one basis.

Here is a list of some Celebrity Bloggers from India:

1. Amitabh Bacchan - The biggest movie star

2. Aamir Khan - Another great actor who is also called Mr. Perfectionist

3. Salman Khan - Another great actor

4. Rahul Bose - The sensible and subtle movie star

5. Ram Gopal Verma - Film Director, Powerful and hard-hitting drama

Then there is:

6. Very popular politician and current Railway Minister Laloo Yadav and

7. Famous movie director Vikram Bhatt

8. Bubbly Movie Actress Preity Zinta

9.  The Gorgeous Actress Shilpa Shetty

If anybody knows about any other Indian Celebrity's blog, please let me know so that I can update the list here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Green Mobile Network for Rural India

Airtel and IFFCO have formed a JV called IFFCO Kisan Sanchar Limited (IKSL) to provider mobile services in villages specially designed for farmers and as per press release by Airtel:

"On offer will be affordable mobile handsets bundled with Airtel mobile connection. The farmer will also get access to a unique VAS platform that will broadcast 5 free voice messages on mandi prices, farming techniques, weather forecasts, dairy farming, animal husbandry, rural health initiatives and fertiliser availability etc. on a daily basis. In addition, the farmer will be able to call a dedicated helpline, manned by experts from various fields, to get answers to their specific queries.

Bharti Airtel will offer competitive calling rates @ 50 paise/minute for calls between IFFCO members."

The Economic Times further reports that: "The JV will bring several hand-cranked products of common use. These include transistors, community radios and torches." It also goes on to say that farmers will be able to charge their mobile phones without power by using some wind-up charger, which I think is really interesting.

I personally welcome this initiative as its a good example of technology working at the grass-root level, however talking about farmers in India also reminds me of very serious issue of farmers' suicide and I just hope that something could be done to improve this grim situation.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Vodafone bringing iPhone to India

28th June - Book iPhone

Update on 12th May: Airtel going to launch the iPhone as well.

Its official now. Vodafone India announced that its going to launch the much awaited iPhone in India later this year. Media speculates that it will be launched sometime in September this year. I am already on Vodafone so that's good I will not need to unlock iPhone to use on other carriers if I buy one.

This news is everywhere but I am taking CIOL's word on it being an official announcement by Vodafone. Unfortunately Vodafone has no press release on its website. Infact their latest press releases are dated February 2008. Considering that I have never received a response after leaving feedback on their website and that their website was hacked last year, it seems Vodafone does not take its website seriously.

Anyway coming back to iPhone, media is of the view that its going to be priced around Rs. 27,000 to Rs. 30,000 range so its not going to be easy on your pockets however die-hard fans will buy it anyway for any price I guess. 8GB version will be launched initially followed by 16 GB version in a few months.

Related post: iPhone is here...

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Do you need a START button on Windows Mobile?

Windows Mobile 6.1 is just released and it has some nice interface tweaks and supposed to be more stable and faster than windows mobile 6. Its a great mobile OS due to its familiarity and compatibility with Windows for desktop. However Microsoft has never given much thought to user experience I guess.

I understand that windows mobile resembles windows in many ways and that probably makes adaptation easier but it probably goes too far with windows resemblance that it ends up being a non-userfriendly mobile OS.

I fully agree with Kevin Hoffman that Windows Mobile is a shrunken and crippled version of windows. I don't see any value of a Start button on a Mobile OS. I have a few suggestions for Windows Mobile User-Experience team:

  1. Please remove the Start Button, its not needed.
  2. Show big, finger-friendly icons for various applications right on Home screen.
  3. Reduce number of screens and taps required to do various things.
  4. Please do away with tiny text labels and other little user interface elements wherever possible.
I think MS can borrow ideas from Palm, Symbian and other mobile OS. All of them seem to adhere to more or less same user-interface concepts.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Centro - Affordable Palm Smartphone for India

Palm India recently launched Centro its newest, cheapest and probably also the best smartphone offering in India. I am calling it cheapest because its retail price as listed on the website is Rs. 13,990. When Treo 680 was first launched in India, its listed price was more than Rs. 25000, however I just checked and its now being sold for Rs. 14,400. However I would quickly like to point out that in US Centro is available for just $99 with service contract and rebates which makes it almost free.

I also call it best palm smartphone because its undoubtedly the smallest and sleekest smartphone from Palm and does everything a Treo 680 does. It also has a camera better than Treo 680.

However I have 2 complaints from Palm.

1. They don't advertise much and their distribution/dealership network does not exist on non-metro Indian cities. I am so tired of people looking at my Treo 680 and asking me what kind of phone it is? Is it a Chinese phone? Is it good and such things. People recognize an O2, Imate or even HTC quite well here and everybody recognises Nokia.

2. Second problem I have is that there are simply no color choices available for Centro in India, but I guess that's because they only have a single color available for GSM Centro. They have option of 3 very attractive colors for CDMA versions in US though.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Virgin rings in India, pays you to recieve call

Virgin Mobile was launched a few days back in India in traditional Virgin (read Path-breaking) style. Timing couldn't have been better for me as I just finished reading his autobiograpy.

Richard Branson came flying down a Hotel to launch the Virgin Mobile logo. Virgin Mobile is a youth targetted mobile service and is available on CDMA networks of Tata Teleservices which operates its Mobile services called Tata Indiacom.
Mr. Branson talked about briging 10 firsts to Indian telecom market, the most interesting in my opinion is their offer to give 10 paise per minute to their users for every incoming call.

The launch was followed by daringly different TV commercials. I am personally very excited by Virgin's entry in Indian telecom space even if they don't own a network here. I hope they will bring in lot of excitement and set benchmarks in customer services as they have done everywhere they have gone. However I am not sure if they can achieve this with Tata Indicom running support operations for Virgin. Tata Indicom's customer service has generally been very poor like most other telecom operators in India.

Tata and Virgin are not in complete sync was also evident from statements from both the sides during the launch. Richard Branson said "At Virgin Mobile we believe that the existing operators are all pursuing the same strategy: to get as many subscribers as quickly as possible. We want to deliver a more tailored, more relevant offering for a single, distinct segment,"

and in the save event Anil Sardana, managing director, Tata Teleservices, said, "This association would support our efforts to be the fastest growing mobile network in India."

I guess that means while Branson wants to not pursue strategy of just getting a lot of subscribers quickly, Tata's are just concentrating on a lot of subscribers as their primary mission.

Well good luck to Virgin and I hope some of Virgin culture and craziness will rub off to Tata Indicom as well in due course. I am too sad that I won't be able to have a first hand experience of Virgin service myself as I don't want to change my number and I am on GSM as of now. May be Richard Branson should put his wait behind in ushering in the Number Portability regime in India so that users from other networks can choose Virgin if they want to.

A personal note to Richard if he ever reads it: I always admired you and after reading your Autobiography I am in awe of you and will probably even risk a balloon flight to meet you :-)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Develop Software Applications for Samsung i800

Without sounding too loaded with all technical jargons let me tell you ALP or Access Linux Platform is Access's strategy to revive the good old Palm OS, so at the core its a Linux OS but they have wrapped Palm interface on top of it so it looks quite familiar to old Palm OS which came with Zire, Treo and Tungsten from Palm.

If you want to develop applications for soon to be launched ALP phones like Samsung i800, you can develop applications for old Palm OS 5 and it should run find on the new phones as well. You can also develop Java applications like you do for other mobile phones and they should run fine on it as well. You also have choice of writing web 2.0 applications to be run on their NetFront browser, but the best choice for developing a new application is developing a native application for ALP.

You can develop native ALP applications using ALP Development Suite which is available on their Developer Portal - ALP Development Suite includes:

  • A complete Eclipse-based set of development tools
  • The Glade 3 Interface Editor for GTK Apps
  • The ACCESS Linux Platform Simulator which runs on the Linux™ desktop and provides seamless application debugging
  • A Compilation Toolchain: gcc, linker and gdb
  • The VirtualPhone Tool which simulates a carrier network for telephony applications
  • Scratchbox, which enables command-line development and cross-compilation for ARM device targets
  • Headers and libraries
  • How-To Documentation and an Integrated API Reference
I will probably have to wait till they launch simulator and other tools for windows desktops as well or till existing Palm Tool manufactures port their development tools for native ALP.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Evolutionary iPhone, Revolutionary Morph

Apple always maintained that iPhone is revolutionary. Many bloggers and analysts have said that it is just evolutionary. When I first watched webcast in which Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, I was really impressed by what I saw and I still feel that iPhone is probably the best phone available in the market today.

However I just watched a breathtaking video of Morph Concept forwarded to me by my friend Abhijeet and I don't know what to say about it. I am very very impressed.

Well who wouldn't be impressed with a phone which behaves like elastic and can stretch and change shape and can be worn on your wrist as wrist band or can even be used as a fashion accessory to match your style. Well that's what Morph intends to be. However Morph is just a concept device now so we can't think of laying hands on one in near future.

In its press release Nokia describes Morph as a joint nanotechnology concept, developed by Nokia Research Center (NRC) and the University of Cambridge (UK). Morph demonstrates how future mobile devices might be stretchable and flexible, allowing the user to transform their mobile device into radically different shapes.

It demonstrates the ultimate functionality that nanotechnology might be capable of delivering: flexible materials, transparent electronics and self-cleaning surfaces.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Samsung i800 (first ALP phone) coming soon

Eversince Palmsource (Now Access) decided to wrap its Palm OS on top of a Linux Mobile OS, people everywhere were wondering about what and how the OS and its interface will finally look.

Well wait seems to be over and as Brighthand reports first ALP (Access Linux Platform) powered smartphone is soon going to be launched in Europe. Phone is reportedly Samsung i800 and will be launched on Orange. To read more about ALP platform and more screenshots go here.

I like what I have seen so far. On an ALP device/phone you can run:

  • Native Linux applications
  • Palm OS applications
  • Java applications
If you add web applications which can be rendered on its Netfront browser then in total you have 4 different software platform options on an ALP smartphone.

Reportedly it will debut in Europe and Asia before reaching American shores.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sony Ericsson's first Windows Mobile phone announced

Sony Ericsson yesterday announced its first windows mobile phone called XPERIA™ X1. So all those rumors were really true. I am now waiting for rumor about Nokia also going windows mobile way to be true as well :-)

I don't know how MS pulled this off considering SE has stakes in Symbain and launced only Symbian powered smartphones earlier. It will be interesting to see if Nokia also takes the bait.

Official press release by SE is here and another relevant news is here.

Its seem Windows Mobile is now really looking to grab the mobile OS share in consumer market as well. Its has already got good share in mobile OS for corporate market.

Friday, January 11, 2008

.NET Compact Framework for Symbian OS

Red Five Labs, a company based in South Africa has just released second beta of NET60. NET60 is actually Compact Framework for S60 (Series 60) platform of Symbian OS. It basically enables S60 mobile phones to run Compact Framework applications without any change required.

It offers interesting proposition for ISVs with primary skills in .net or windows mobile development as there are a hell lot of S60 devices out there including the popular N-Series from Nokia.

However they seem to support CF 1.0 only and CF 3.5 is already out so I think they are lagging behind there. In my opinion they should support atleast CF 2.0.

Credits: Thanks Abhijeet for telling me about NET60.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Stylus is Out, Finger is In

Using fingers on touch screen of your mobile is always easier and convenient then using that dumb old stylus, but then with small elements present on those small screens you need stylus, don't you? Well Apple said you don't with the launch of iPhone. With the big icons and buttons it allowed users to do away with stylus and just use their fingers.

Well this proved to be quite a hit as every other mobile manufacturer started working to support that finger-friendly user interface on its mobile phones.

Windows Mobile does not yet support a finger-friendly user interface, although that may change with Windows Mobile 7, but till then you a few options to jazz up your windows mobile phone.

First there is Spb Mobile Shell which costs $30. It hass user friendly Today screen, big buttons and menus for common tasks so that you don't need to pull your stylus everytime.

Then there is HTC Touch with its TouchFlo system which not only gives you large buttons and a finger-friendly user interface. It also has those iPhone like animations and special effects where you can slide and scroll using your fingers. Its kinda a cool phone but then you can't just install TouchFlo on any other windows mobile phone. You need to buy one of various variants of HTC Touch phones which come with TouchFlo.

Finally there is Poinui Home which is again a software like Spb Mobile Shell so you can install on any windows mobile 5 or 6 phone. I will say it really scores quite high in coolness department. Its animations are smooth and slick you can use finger to scroll like in iPhone. The animation when it starts up or the animated opening of its various screens and even its about screen effect is really word class and on top of it all its FREE. Ya you heard me right :-)

It has a few negatives as well - many bloggers say that its uninstall does not work well. I have found its scrolling to be counter-intuitive as it scrolls left when I expect it to scroll right and vice-versa. Also sometime when I am just sliding my fingers it detects a tap and takes me inside the application or opens another screen so it does not work as smoothly as sliding on iPhone, but then I think it has to do with the TouchScreen hardware on windows mobile phones rather then their software. Nonetheless this product is making quite a splash. You can watch its very cool video at Gizmodo.

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