Posts Tagged ‘ Google ’

Goo.gl really pushing QR Codes

How do you know that a technology is beginning to take off ? Google does something with it, thats how. After Twitter, the importance of the length of a webpage URL needed some real looking at, because you would get only 140 characters to include the URL and your message, hence the birth of the URL Shortness. Needless to say Google thought it was a good idea and came up with a similar service called goo.gl. Its been shown below that it is indeed one of the best services available out there. That is the first piece of the jigsaw.

qrcode

QR Code is something that Google has showed interest in from getting it onto the Google maps for businesses, to now a URL shortening service which generates QR codes for the shortened code. For those of you who don’t recall, a QR (“quick response”) code is a square barcode that makes getting URLs, location coordinates, any text or contact information onto a phone fast. With a barcode scanner app installed, you just point your phone’s camera at the code to read its contents.

If you’re already using Goo.gl to shorten your URLs, simply add .qr to the end of a shortened Goo.gl URL and it’ll instantly generate a QR code for you.

Once you’ve got your shortened Goo.gl URL—like http://goo.gl/aXum, which points to Lifehacker’s home page—just append .qr like so:

http://goo.gl/aXum.qr

…and you’ve got your personal QR code. Not bad.

Note: To use Goo.gl to shorten URLs, you need to be using the Google Toolbar, or you can point your browser here . You can also check out my previous post about QR Codes here.

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A Story of Easter, Eggs and Geeks

First things first, Happy Easter to one and all, and hope you have a good celebration today. One of the oldest and famous traditions of Easter is of course Easter Eggs, and the idea of Parents hiding the easter eggs for the kids to find it was just something that kinda makes Easter fun for the kids. Dont get me wrong Christmas is still my favourite christian festival. Well what is Easter Eggs doing in a tech blog ? Well, we geeks have a good sense of humour and patience to include all things around us into geeky versions of them. I am talking about Software Eggs, or hidden pieces of code or functionality that shows up when you look for it in a software. If that was confusing then I guess you can check out the definition in Wikipedia:

A virtual Easter egg is an intentional hidden message, in-joke or feature in an object such as a movie, book, CD, DVD, computer program, web page or video game. The term was coined—according to Warren Robinett—by Atari after they were pointed to the secret message left by Robinett in the game Adventure. It draws a parallel with the custom of the Easter egg hunt observed in many Western nations as well as the last Russian imperial family’s tradition of giving elaborately jeweled egg-shaped creations by Carl Fabergé which contained hidden surprises.

Well hoping that is clear I would like to point out some cool Easter Eggs in popular software such you can go out on your own Easter Egg trail. Well these were actually by lifeHacker, I am just reposting for people who might not have had the chance to check it out there.

10. Firefox Book of Mozilla Easter Egg

How to find it: In all versions of Firefox, in the address bar, type about:mozilla.
What you get: A quote from the “Book of Mozilla” about the birth of Firefox.

9. Internet Explorer 6/7 credits

How to find it: Using Internet Explorer 7 (not IE6 or the IE8 beta), typejavascript:window.name=”TheWCEE”;location.href=”res://shdoclc.dll/wcee.htm”into the address bar.
What you get: A hidden page of IE developer credits.

8. Firefox Kitchen Sink

In Firefox 2 and higher, type about kitchensink (no colon in there, unlike about:mozilla!). Update: A commenter points out that this is Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” search in action, not an Easter egg at all. Our bad!
What you get: An automatic redirect to an animated, ASCII art kitchen sink.

7. Google Earth 4.2 Flight Simulator

How to find it: Launch the latest version 4.2 of Google Earth (free download) and hit Ctrl+Alt+A (Mac users: Cmd+Opt+A.)
What you get: A full-on flight simulator that lets you choose an airport, plane type, and lets you fly inside Google Earth. It is fun but it’s not easy; here’s more on how to navigate in flight in Google Earth.

6. OpenOffice.org Calc Tic-Tac-Toe and Space Invaders Games (also works in NeoOffice on the Mac!)

How to find it: Using OpenOffice.org’s Calc spreadsheet program, type=GAME(A2:C4;”TicTacToe”) into any cell.
What you get: A game of Tic-Tac-Toe! For Space Invaders, type =GAME(“StarWars”). Here are more OpenOffice.org Easter eggs.

5. Emacs Therapist

How to find it: In the Mac Terminal (or at any command line), type emacs, hit Enter, press Escape, type “xdoctor” (no quotes).
What you get: An interactive dialogue with a shrink named Eliza. To get out of it, hit Control+X Control+C.

4. Minesweeper Reveal Mines Cheat

(Note: Technically, this is more a cheat than an egg.)
How to find it: In Minesweeper, type “xyzzy.” Then press Shift+Enter.
What you get: A single pixel on the upper-left hand corner of your monitor will turn black when you mouse over a block that contains a mine. Get the high score on the family computer! (Note: several people report that this cheat works on Windows XP with SP2, but those with widescreen monitors like myself might have trouble. Let us know if it works for you in the comments.)

3. Excel 97 Flight Simulator

How to find it: This one’s an oldie but a goodie. Using Excel 97 (doesn’t work in later versions), create a new worksheet, and press F5. Type “X97:L97” and press Enter. Press the Tab key, hold down Ctrl and Shift, and left-click the Chart Wizard toolbar icon.
What you get: Launched into a nifty flight simulator that glides you over the surface of a planet (the moon?) and shows you Excel developer credits. (I don’t have a copy of Excel 97 any more, but definitely got this puppy to work back in the day.) Thanks to EggHeaven for reminding us of the steps to get there.

2. Picasa Teddy Bears

How to find it: In Picasa, press Ctrl+Shift+Y.
What you get: Your photo library taken over by teddy bears! Keep hitting the key combo to add more bears. Update:Apparently this is one of the Picasa programmer’s teddies, named Thomas. Thanks, telekinetyk! [via PC
World
]

1. uTorrent Tetris

How to find it: In uTorrent, go to the Help menu and choose “About uTorrent.” Press the letter T.
What you get: A game of Tetris while you wait for your download to complete. Thanks, computer joe!

Thanks to EggHeaven for tipping us off to many of these eggs. You can also head out to http://www.eeggs.com/ and find more for yourself.

Is Dell Going to Follow Suite to What Google is doing ?

Past few days there have been unconfirmed reports of DELL having talks with the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Manmohan Singh and discussed its intent to move from China into safer Markets. Apparently, DELL sees huge potential in India as the country is playing a dramatic shift towards selling services to business clients after shaking off its singular dependence on direct sales of personal computers, as per the Economic Times. Add to it the fact that India has showed proven growth in the recession when other states have not been able to (finger pointed to China).

The Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, was quoted in the Hindustan Times as saying he’d just met with Dell’s chairman, who would like to move all of their set-up to a country “with security of legal system”. They’ve currently got one factory in India already, so it might seem an obvious choice. Mr. Dell, the founder of Dell is quoted to be saying, “India is a great place to be in. It is growing faster than China for us”. Dell, whose return as CEO in 2007 redefined a hardware company that once championed the direct sales model, sees the Indian market helping its offshoot Dell International Services expand beyond technology and consulting services to healthcare, insurance and governance. In India, the company won a Rs. 90-crore contract from Max Healthcare late last year.

Dell generates annual revenues of nearly $1 billion and has a free cash flow of $4.6 billion from India. “Over the last three years, consumer, public sector and small medium businesses have been growing in India.” On India’s ambitious Unique ID (UID) project, Dell said that he is keen on participating, particularly on aspects such as how it can the used to deliver healthcare by storing patient records. The company is also eyeing the smart phone market. “There’s a huge market to be tapped out there if we go by the smart phone user base,” he said, adding that just 1.5 percent of the world’s 4-billion mobile phone users have a smart phone.

Everyone knows about the Google – China fight and Google to leave China soon. Well after that, GoDaddy the domain registration firm has mentioned that it will leave china as well. Now Dell. Could this be the beginning of a mass exodus. Might be, considering the famous Chinese legislation which might have companies manufacturing in China to provide their schematics

Via Gizmodo via HindustanTimes via SiliconIndia

10 Websites that changed the Internet (India Edition)

Ever wonder what made the Internet the monster it is, starting only within the CERN research facility to now reaching nearly ever home with a computer ? Well it was the services and the websites that were there online. The more people saw value and entertainment, the more they got involved and more the internet grew. Influenced from the article here, I wanted to make a list of my 10 websites that actually made a difference to the Internet.

1. Geocities.com

Like a few million people around the planet, this was one of the sites that helped amateur web enthusiasts like me to enable my first attempt at making an online presence. I saw a lot of web pages, self learnt HTML from the pages and got to a stage where I wanted to really make a mark online. Unfortunately engineering in Instrumentation and Technology did not make it any easy to keep in touch with the internet. But it sure told a lot of us that making and keeping a website was not very very hard, and its a skill that can be learnt with a bit of patience and a liking for web design. However, amateurs like me are responsible for most of those ugly websites that started during the days of Geocities and exist even until this day. The internet bid farewell to this beauty last year. Geocities will be missed but the job is now taken on by a few websites out there like Google Sites, Tumblr etc

2. Wikipedia.org

With an intent to enable the entire world free access to knowledge, this was one of the real success stories of the Internet. I think the donation doors have time and again raised enough money to ensure that such a great resource as wikipedia stays alive and more importantly free. Giving a major competition to closed loop education and knowledge resources like the Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia, this is one world class product and project that definately changed the internet. Did you know that you can download a copy of the latest backup version of wikipedia ? Check it out at this location for yourself. http://download.wikimedia.org/

3. Hotmail.com

India’s first big mark on the online world came from a relatively unknown guy then named Sabeer Bhatia, and what he did was not only did he give a face to email but also a big mark for startups that get bought up. Starting Hotmail with some investment from a venture capitalist this Indian American Entrepreneur sold Hotmail for about $400 Million to Microsoft. Hotmail generated the interest in people to actually go online and create the account for an Email Address. Later the major chunk of the emails was taken up by USA.net which converted to a paid service at which point people moved to Yahoo Mail or Gmail. This was the state in India at least.

4. Rediff.com / Indiatimes.com

Between the international players, India had some shining stars for web portals. Rediff.com and Indiatimes.com are two sites that are running successfully even today. Both the sites integrated the online news / mail / sports / entertainment sections so well that it seemed that a lot of people had accounts with Rediff or Indiatimes at one time. After the popularity of Gmail this is shifted a little bit. However quite a few friends of mine still use their Rediff account as their primary communication medium. Interestingly, these sites were the first news sites in India, additionally they added the other craze of India cricket with live scores etc. Other similar sites at that time were sify.com and Indya.com.

5.  Amazon.com / eBay.com

The entire eCommerce bubble I would say was fuelled by these websites. Amazon and Ebay showed how to legitimately make money and substantial amounts of it. They provided customers a lot of support for people who were looking for collectibles, home appliances etc. Interestingly they grew so big that there were individuals who survived by searching eBay and providing people who were looking for stuff from stamps and coins to electronics and real estate; all for a small premium. They provided people a platform to buy and sell things and make money with garage sales and second hand goods and make money without having to build their own website.

6. Youtube.com

You tube provided the missing piece to the expanding internet, Video. Vanity is one of the most famous things that gets people do unbelievable interesting or goofy things. You tube gave people an outlet to get their 15 minutes of fame. Be it by making their dog sing a song or perform bizarre stunts. However, it now is one of the most visited website on the planet. Providing millions of hours of entertainment to people with a lot of time on their hands and looking for entertainment. From movies to the present IPL, India is all over the You Tube.

7. Blogger.com


Blogger is an awesome platform that provides amateurs like me a platform to post their views about anything under the sun. Although I am not using Blogger anymore and have moved on to WordPress.com, it is still one of the first services with Live Journal that enticed users to blog and made the buzz on the blog-o-sphere. Blogger is not only easy to use but also allows users to monetize their blog by posting Google Ads on it. It is one of the services that encourages users to write and make money at the same time.

8. Facebook.com


There is no introduction required for facebook.com. Nearly everyone is hooked on to this magical website. Although there were earlier sites that encouraged people to network socially like orkut.com, hi5.com, friendster.com, facebook is the one that we can see taking over the internet. In fact it just surpassed Google as the most visited website within the U.S. Facebook not only revolutionized social networking, but also sharing photos, websites, videos, messaging, walling and the ever famous pokes.

9. Twitter.com


It is not something that can be comprehended in the world of blogging, websites etc, a website that restricts you to 140 characters is now taking the internet to the next phase of its evolution. The Mobile. Before twitter, Mobile internet was completely restricted to emails through exchange and messages and some websites that were wap friendly. But twitter along with good mobile hardware has just changed how people use the internet on their phones. This definately is worth the mention.

10. Google.com

The Search Giant that indexed the Internet and provided information to all people for free to be able to get around the vast and ever growing Internet. AdSense provided them with enough revenue for them to be able to provide a lot of services from the Google stables for free. Gmail, Google Earth, Google Docs, Google Maps, Google Sketchup, Google Picasa and many other services that we have come to love have all been born out of the revenue of AdSense. Google is one of the most loved and most visited single website on the world and they definately changed the Internet for good.

On a more personal note, the very first website that I had visited was unbelivable http://www.bharat-rakshak.com which is not as popular as one wold think, considering that they are almost like an unofficial website of the entire Indian Armed forces, the Army, Nave and the Air force. I was then looking for information related to getting to the NDA and this was one of the best resource, The internet was at a cyber cafe off Brigade Road in Bangalore and they were charging about Rs 140/- per hour, the internet connection was dial up and the one hour that my friend and I used the Internet we just browsed about 8 pages of that website.

Google visualized (facts and figures)

[tweetmeme] Info graphics are one of my favorite topics in the world, Google ranks as the most favorite. So when someone comes upon the info graphic of Google, I had to write about it.

Source

Google working towards the dream phone

[tweetmeme] A couple of years ago, there was this huge viral success, a Pomegranate phone that would do nearly everything from making your coffee, global voice translation, video projector, harmonica and shaving razor among other standard features of leading current mobile phones at that time. Well it turned out to be just an ad campaign for Nova Scotia and its culture; and of course generate interest in establishing Nova Scotia as a desirable place to live and do business.

Google on the other hand seems to have a lot of interest in futuristic concepts for the world of tomorrow, and this can be sure seen as the popularity of the Search Giant on innovation and technology blogs worldwide. The fact that Google has worked around quite a few interesting technologies is a testimony to them working on those solutions. Starting from the interesting Google Phone the Nexus One, their Android Platform for mobiles, Google Voice,  Google Goggles and the Google Translate application for the phone where you can read a different language on real-time translation, that I wrote about recently.

Well since my last post they have included a new support of text to voice, into their translation service. So now we need can listen to the translation to listen to what it sounds like. If I was writing about Google Why have I included the pomegranate video and all the bullshit about it. Well read the first paragraph again, and try to get the link, well I wont make you read it again, don’t worry. Its voice translation in real-time. Really just like the video, Google real-time voice translation is another service announced by Google.

Real time voice-to-voice translation would be the first attempt of its kind for phones. Google already provides an automatic text translation system on computers and  also has a voice recognition system which enables phone users to search the web or use google maps through speech. Now, Google is working on combining the google translate and its speech recognition system to develop a new voice-to-voice translation for phones. The application would recognize speech in packages and translate them to another language after interpreting the meaning of the original speech. Although Google’s text translation works quite accurately, the speech recognition system has its flaws and Google is now working on improving it.

However, Google is not the only company working on the real-time voice to voice translations.In June 2009  Sakhr, a Gulf based company claims to have already pioneered and developed the voice to voice translations of Arabic to English and is catering the services to clients like Blackberry and iPhone, including the US Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice. Below is a demo video of their software for the Blackberry:

So, interestingly they have started working on one of the technologies from the dream phone, if at all the nexus one made coffee, had a swiss army knife and also shave my face 😉

Bloom Box another Indian Invention set to change the world

By saying its an Indian invention is going to sensationalize the whole story. I would like to clarify however that, the Inventor of the device is an Indian who used to work at NASA, K R Sridhar. Can the name be more Indian ? lol. However  last week he had a public launch of this invention the “Bloom Box”, which can produce (hold your breath) Clean Energy. I did mention in an earlier post that the tech with the most growth expected is Power Generation. And its no surprise that I am getting to see more development on that front.

Whats the big deal you ask ? Especially since you can find a lot of information these days on ‘Eco Tech” websites. Well A brick sized device in the corner of your house can generate enough energy to run your house. Yes, you read that right, and whats its main ingredient ? Sand. You know that a technology has the most potential when you can boast of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Colin Powell and the heads of Google and Walmart at its launch. Even more unlikely, the firm in question makes what some may regard as a less than sexy clean energy device.

According to Sridhar, a single cell can produce about 25W, enough for a low-energy lightbulb, and a stack of cells the size of a brick will power an average home. A single Bloom box, a unit the size of a chest freezer and which contains several stacks of fuel cells, will produce 100KW, enough for 100 homes. The box consists of a stack of ceramic disks coated with green and black “inks.” The disks are separated by cheap metal alloy plates. Methane (or other hydrocarbons) and oxygen are fed in, the whole thing is heated up to 1,000 degrees Celsius, and electricity comes out. Bloom estimates that a box filled with 64 ceramic disks can produce enough juice to power a Starbucks.

So Here is what makes this technology so exciting :

  • The Bloom Energy Server is made out of fuel cells, or electrochemical cells. A single fuel cell consists of an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte stuck between the two. As fuel flows in through the anode side and an oxidant comes in over the cathode, a reaction is triggered that causes electrons to move into the fuel cell’s circuit, producing electricity.
  • The Bloom Energy Server isn’t actually a server–that’s just a PR buzzword. In actuality, it’s a distributed power generator. Each “server” produces 100 kW of power, consists of thousands of fuel cells, costs between $700,000 and $800,000, and pays for itself in three to 5 years based on an energy cost of 8 to 9 cents per kW hour.
  • There are many different types of fuel cells. Some of the more popular ones include methanol fuel cells, hydrogen fuel cells, and zinc-air batteries. The Bloom Energy Server consists of solid oxide fuel cells, which are attractive because they can be made out of low-cost materials with high energy efficiencies.
  • The cells can run on a variety of fuels, including traditional fuel, natural gas, biomass gas, landfill gas, and ethanol.
  • Until now, technical challenges have stopped solid oxide fuel cells from being commercialized, but the company’s cells (“sand” baked into ceramic squares that are coated with green and black inks) supposedly have overcome most of the issues. Bloom’s Web site has a great animation showing how solid oxide fuel cells work.

Bloom Energy

  • One of the biggest problems with solid oxide fuel cells is their temperature requirement–the ceramic squares only become active at extremely high temperatures (up to 1800 F). That means Bloom’s cells will have to prove that they can remain durable under the stress–already, the company has had to come out to replace cells at eBay’s installation, which has been running for just 7 months. In general, Bloom expects that its fuel cell stacks will have to be switched out twice during the device’s 10 year lifespan.
  • Bloom’s device generates electricity at 50% to 55% conversion efficiency. In comparison, solar generally produces power at between 10% to 15% efficiency. But unlike solar panels, the Bloom Energy Server produces CO2 as a byproduct. According to the Energy Collective, “CO2 emissions when running on natural gas would be just under 0.8 pounds/kWh, which compares favorably to electricity from central station coal-fired plants (2 lbs/kWh) or natural gas plants (roughly 1.3 lbs/kWh) and the national average for on-grid electricity (around 1.3-1.5 lbs/kWh).” If the box runs on landfill gas or biogas, it produces net zero carbon emissions.
  • Eventually, Bloom hopes that a scaled-down version device can be used in homes. A residential Bloom Box would produce 1 kW of power and cost approximately $3,000. But that probably won’t happen for at least 10 years.