Saturday, August 22, 2009

Sun-Oracle deal gets OK from US Justice Dept

Business software maker Oracle Corp said it has received the Justice Department's approval to move forward with its $7.4 billion acquisition of former dot-com-era star Sun Microsystems Inc.

The deal still needs to get the go-ahead from the European Commission.

Clearance by the Justice Department had been held up over questions about the licensing of Java, a programming language that Sun invented that now runs on more than 7 billion electronic devices around the world, including cell phones and personal computers.

Sun's shareholders approved the deal in July. Another potential antitrust question could surround Sun's MySQL database, an open-source product. Some worry Oracle could make MySQL a lower priority as it tries to boost sales of its market-leading database software.

Sun's performance had been shaky for nearly a decade before Oracle outbid IBM Corp. for the Santa Clara, California-based company in April. IBM is one of Oracle's biggest database software rivals, and is a major Sun rival in computer servers.

The Sun acquisition will give Oracle more control over the development of Java, a key technology used in its products, and also thrust the Redwood Shores, California-based company into hardware, a new area for Oracle.

The Justice Department's approval was expected. Oracle's stock rose 17 cents to $22.11 in after-hours trading, having finished the regular trading session up 16 cents to close at $21.94.


Why Amazon, Microsoft, Yahoo! oppose Google book project?

Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo! are planning to join a coalition of library associations and non-profit groups in opposing Google's ambitious book scanning project, US newspapers reported on Friday.

The New York Times and Wall Street Journal said the technology heavyweights have agreed to form what is tentatively being called the Open Book Alliance to challenge Google's class action settlement with authors and publishers.

The settlement, which gives the Internet search and advertising giant the rights to commercialize digital copies of millions of books, is already facing anti-trust scrutiny from the Justice Department and awaiting court approval.

Gary Reback, an anti-trust lawyer in Silicon Valley who is acting as counsel to the Alliance, told the Times the book deal "has enormous, far-reaching anticompetitive consequences that people are just beginning to wake up to."

Reback, who helped persuade the Justice Department to file its anti-trust case against Microsoft in the 1990s, said the group includes the Internet Archive, a San Francisco non-profit which maintains a digital library of websites.

The Times said the group plans to make a case to the Justice Department that the arrangement is anticompetitive.

It said that members of the Alliance were likely to file objections independently with the US District Court in New York which is set to hold a "fairness hearing" on the deal on October 7.

Microsoft and Yahoo! confirmed to the Times that they were participants while Amazon refused to comment.

Peter Brantley, a director of the Internet Archive, said the Special Libraries Association, the New York Library Association and the American Society of Journalists and Authors were planning to join the group.
He told the Journal its membership would be formally disclosed in the next couple
of weeks.

Brantley said members of the coalition all see problems with the settlement and are pushing for revisions, but not all necessarily want to see it blocked.

The Google Book Search project has come under fire from a number of quarters, including from groups worried about privacy.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Samuelson Law, Technology and Public Policy Clinic of the University of California at Berkeley recently wrote to Google chief executive Eric Schmidt expressing concerns about privacy aspects of the deal.

"Given the long and troubling history of government and third party efforts to compel libraries and booksellers to turn over records about readers, it is essential that Google Books incorporate strong privacy protections in both the architecture and policies of Google Book Search," they said.

Google reached a settlement last year with the Authors Guild and Association of American Publishers on a copyright infringement lawsuit they filed in 2005 over Google's plan to scan millions of books and put them online.

Under the settlement, Google agreed to establish an independent "Book Rights Registry," which will provide revenue from sales and advertising to authors and publishers who agree to digitize their books.

Microsoft shut down its own book scanning project in May of last year.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Will MindTree touch $1 bn revenue by 2014?

Mid-sized software services firm MindTree, which completed 10 years on Tuesday, will come up with newer strategies as it aims to achieve over $1 billion in revenues by March, 2014. The company, which counts steel-maker Arcelor Mittal and Swedish truckmaker Volvo among its top customers, will be focusing on areas like energy, defence and healthcare. The firm is also targeting newer geographies like Japan.

“We are making strategic investment in defence, working along with DRDO and focusing on areas which deal with the surveillance space. There isn’t much revenue contribution right now, but the potential in long run is great” , said S Janakiraman, president and CEO, R&D services and one of the 10 co-founders of MindTree. MindTree is also building video surveillance , analytics solutions and new telemedicine solutions for the burgeoning rural healthcare market. “We recently had a major win from an Apac telecom firm and an European consumer appliance company. The size of the contracts is worth $5-6 million”, he said.

Mr Janakiraman said that MindTree will be the fastest growing company once the recovery happens as they are making more investments for innovations. “The 15% salary cut of 200 employees out of 8,000 will be immediately restored once business picks up”. MindTree has also bagged a contract for IT services from Swift, the financial messaging provider, and has plans to tap energy sector.

“We have put the team in place and are talking to large energy companies in Europe and the US,” said Anjan Lahiri, president and CEO, IT services and one of the co-founders of MindTree.


Nokia likley to enter Netbook market

Nokia, the world's largest maker of cell phones, could be preparing to enter the crowded Netbook market.

According to the Economic Times, Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo told reporters at a press event Wednesday in India, that "the PC and the mobile will continue to come closer and merge." He said Nokia sees a lot of opportunity in this convergence and he added that the company is "looking at the Netbook market to see what kind of opportunity is there."

It shouldn't come as a big surprise that Nokia might push further into the computing space. The company has been marketing its new smartphone, the N97, as a "mobile computer." And the company has also been selling its mobile Internet devices, or N-series Tablets.

These devices, which are geared toward early adopters and gadget lovers, typically start at around $300 to $400. They don't incorporate a traditional cell phone, but they come with a full QWERTY keypad and access to the Internet via Wi-Fi or through a Bluetooth-connected phone.

Netbooks appeal to a wider audience than mobile Internet devices, which could help Nokia diversify its business. Netbooks, which once were seen as "companion devices" for accessing cloud-based services like Gmail or social-networking sites like Facebook, are now being used as full-blown computers.

Their low cost (around $299) has driven big sales of these devices. About 16 million Netbooks were sold in North America in 2008. And because these devices often use Windows XP, a familiar operating system, most PC users already feel comfortable using them.

Nokia is likely hoping to cash in on Netbooks' popularity.

It's clear that consumers are looking to be more mobile and as carriers around the world build faster 4G wireless networks, demand for mobility will likely increase. What's more, Nokia and other handset makers will soon be facing competition from computer makers in the mobile phone market. Laptop maker Acer has already announced it is developing a smartphone. And there are reports that PC maker Dell is also working on a mobile phone.

Economic Times/Agencies

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Check out the dirtiest web sites of summer 2009

Security vendor, Symantec has identified the "Dirtiest Web Sites of summer 2009", the 100 sites with the most threats detected by site ratings service Norton Safe Web as of August 2009. These sites represent the "worst of the worst" based on the number of threats.

While nearly 48 percent of the sites feature adult content, the remainder of the sites is dedicated to varying subject matters, like deer hunting, catering, legal services and buying electronics. Malware is the most common threat, followed by security risks and browser exploits. Even a simple visit to these sites without downloading or clicking on anything in particular can be risky. Some of the sites listed include,,, and

The report states that there has been an increase in the number of online threats that are constantly evolving, as cybercriminals look for new ways to target money, identity and assets. Rowan Trollope, Senior Vice President, Consumer Business Unit, Symantec says, "Norton Safe Web provides visual ratings that let consumers know about potential risks before visiting a site. Armed with this information, consumers are empowered to make informed decisions about which sites to visit."

The average number of threats per malicious site rated by Norton Safe Web is 23. The average number of threats on the Dirtiest Web Sites list is a staggering 18,000 per site. In fact, 40 of the 100 dirtiest Web Sites have more than 20,000 threats per site. Nearly 75 percent of sites on the list have distributed malware for more than six months. Norton Safe Web crawls the Web and performs analysis of millions of sites, and benefits from a network of more than 20 million Norton Community Watch members that automatically submit suspicious URLs for analysis in real-time.


Reliance now allows to play antakshari on mobiles

Anil Ambani led Reliance Mobile has launched antakshari game on its R-World platform for both- GSM (Global System for Mobile communications) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) users. Now, Reliance Mobile subscribers can play this game with a selected community or their friends on the move.

Reliance is also creating a special marketing portal, where a subscriber will be able to throw a challenge to others and recipients will be able to respond. While playing, users will get three lifelines to continue the game. These lifelines are library, 50-50 and ask a friend.

On the launch of this service, Krishna Durbha, Head - VAS, Reliance Communications said, "Antakshari is one of the oldest music based games that Indians have known and played for generations. We have conceptualized the same for our subscribers, who can now play this game with any other Reliance subscriber in the country."

The antakshari service will come at a monthly subscription of Rs.30 with 30 minutes of free usage. Users will also have the right to block other users at any point in time as well as decide whom they want to play with.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Will IBM develop future chips with DNA?

Scientists from IBM and California Institute of Technology are trying to build the next generation chips- smaller and more powerful, with the combination of DNA and nanotechnology. The experimental breakthrough can be a step toward developing a new technique for making smaller microprocessors beyond the traditional manufacturing processes.

In the past few years, chipmakers have been able to make tinier and powerful products, but this advancement has also pushed the limits of manufacturing techniques. According to IBM, "The revolutionary method, developed at its Almaden Research Center in California and the California Institute of Technology, can help it to make computer chips from the molecule, by arranging DNA structures on the surface of manufactured semiconductor material." Microchips are mainly used in computers, mobile phones and a broad range of electronic devices and, as chipmakers compete to develop ever-smaller chips at cheaper prices, designers are struggling to cut costs.

Spike Narayan, Research Manager, IBM said, "The biological structures like DNA actually offer some very reproducible, repetitive kinds of patterns that we can actually leverage in semiconductor processes. The combination of this directed self-assembly with today's fabrication technology for high-resolution positioning of nano-objects eventually can lead to substantial savings in the most expensive and challenging part of the chip making process." This combination can also help processor designers to keep pace with Moore's Law - the 40-plus-year-old prediction by Gordon Moore that the number of transistors on a chip will double every two years.

The cost involved in shrinking features to improve performance is a limiting factor in keeping pace with Moore's Law and a concern across the semiconductor industry. Currently, the semiconductor industry is able to make processors using 22 nanometer manufacturing technology. IBM is also looking for the DNA to act as scaffolds or miniature circuit boards for the highly precise assembly of chip components, like nanotubes, nanowires and nanoparticles. After using this technique, manufacturers are likely to build 'significantly smaller' chips than has been possible with current semiconductor fabrication technology.


OLED technology emerges big in new smartphone

It consumes little power, gives superior picture quality and was touted as the future of all displays, but organic screen
technology has been languishing in manufacturers' backrooms until now.

Active-matrix organic light-emitting diode (AM-OLED) displays are making a belated appearance in pricier smartphones as makers latch on to the technology to get an edge in a sector where competition is fierce and features matter more than price.

Samsung Electronics, the world's No.2 mobile phone maker and a main proponent of the technology, has eight models featuring organic screens and plans to roll out about 10 more by the year-end.

In the United States, its Impression model is sold via AT&T, and Sprint Nextel will also offer at least one Samsung phone using AM-OLED technology.

Global cellphone leader Nokia is offering AM-OLED in its N85 and N86 high-end models as it fends off smartphone rivals such as Research In Motion and Apple.

Fans of the technology say that while AM-OLED mobile phone screens are 50-80 percent more expensive than conventional LCD screens and their high price has kept them from mass-production, their time may have come.

"I think the economics of it are somewhat irrelevant," said Ben Wood, an analyst at wireless research firm CCS Insight. "It's a real differentiator. I predict you'll see AM-OLED devices from all the major manufacturers within 12 months from now."

But AM-OLED technology failed to catch on for a reason. The screens are more expensive to produce, and supply is restricted to a few manufacturers, primarily Samsung Mobile Display, which has 97 percent share of the market.

"I've no doubt about (AM-OLED) growth over the long term. But whether all players would immediately follow the trend set by Samsung, I'm not sure," said Oh In-bum, an analyst at Dongbu Securities.

The appeal of AM-OLED technology lies in the thin layer of organic materials that allow screens to glow on their own, unlike liquid crystal display (LCD) panels, resulting in slimmer screens that use less power, boast faster response speed and have more vivid colours.

Samsung is the main proponent of a wider adoption of the technology, and forecasts 37.5 percent of all mobile phones sold in 2015 will have AM-OLED screens, up from 2.3 percent in 2009.

Samsung Mobile Display aims to sell 23 million units of AM-OLED displays this year, up from 7 million in 2008. Jeff Kim, an analyst at Hyundai Securities, expects Samsung's sales to reach 49 million next year.


Analysts are hopeful that AM-OLED prices will come down as output increases, lifting the biggest hurdle for wider adoption.

"Technologies have been advancing at a faster-than-expected rate and even in the downturn, consumers are keen to buy high-end products," said Hyundai Securities' Kim.

He expects the premium for a 2.8-inch AM-OLED display (used largely in handsets) over the same-size LCD screen to narrow to 10-20 percent within two years from 50 percent now. Displays typically make up 10-20 percent of a phone's manufacturing cost.

But some analysts have lower expectations as many manufacturers remain comfortable with mass-produced LCD screens. Vinita Jakhanwal, analyst at iSuppli, expects AM-OLED phones to account for only about 10 percent of all phones sold in 2013.

"This still means LCD has the bulk of the market," Jakhanwal said. "LCD screens are evolving too and they're improving their performance." LG Electronics, Samsung's home rival and the third-ranked handset maker, went for a premium LCD display on its 'New Chocolate' touchscreen phone.

Its screen-making affiliate LG Display is also building a new production line for more technologically advanced LCD screens for mobiles.

And for the AM-OLED business to grow in scale and turn profitable, the technology needs more manufacturers. Apart from Samsung, the only other two manufacturers are LG Display and a unit of Taiwan's Chi Mei Optoelectronics Corp.

Industry specialists also note that while organic displays for handsets appear ready to take off, the sheer cost of using the technology on larger PC and TV screens is still prohibitive. Japan's Sony Corp launched the world's first OLED TV in late 2007, but has not followed with new models.


Monday, August 17, 2009

Avail smart ticketing from Indian Railways

The Indian Railways has selected a chip technology by NXP Semiconductors, a semiconductor founded by Philips to power its contactless smart cards for automatic fare collection system. The secure microcontroller-based technology called MIFARE DESFire will be implemented across various Indian cities in the ATVMs (Automatic Ticket Vending Machines).

The user-friendly ATVMs will be rolled out across five Indian cities - New Delhi, Secunderabad, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and Pune. Together with card and inlay-manufacturer Siepmann's Card Systems, NXP will provide MIFARE DESFire-based ICs for approximately 6.5 lakh contactless cards over a period of one year. This project is expected to be launched in September 2009 and will initially be rolled out in Delhi and Secunderabad.

The Centre for Railway Information Systems (CRIS), the IT wing of the Ministry of Railways had developed the ATVMs as part of an Unreserved Ticketing System (UTS). In 2007, CRIS developed the smart card based contactless solutions using NXP's MIFARE 1KB Classic chip in Mumbai Suburban Railway and Chennai. Over five lakh smart cards were issued to passengers in the Central/Western Railway at Mumbai and Southern Railway at Chennai.

Commenting on the implementation of smart card technology in India, Ashok Chandak, Senior Director, Global Sales and Marketing for India, NXP said, "We see a significant growth in the use of contactless Smart Card technology in transport systems in India." According to NXP, 75 percent of all electronic tickets in public transport worldwide use the NXP MIFARE technology.


Open Source projects dominated by IT vendors

More vendors are getting involved in open source project despite the economic slowdown. Gartner has reported many key findings related to open source in Predicts 2009: The Evolving Open-Source Software Model report. Gartner reports that 50 percent of direct commercial revenue attributed to open-source products or services will come from projects under a single vendor's patronage. Many new projects are being commercialized early in their maturity phases - often by a dot-com startup and before a broad community "network effect" is firmly established. These projects are often under the patronage of a single vendor that employs nearly all key code contributors.

According to Gartner's key findings, driven by expanding mainstream IT adoption, open-source usage profiles are shifting to more-conservative, risk-versus-reward dynamics. As a result, new adopters now place an increasing premium on commercial support channels to establish service-level agreements on par with closed-source alternatives. Gartner recommends that companies should understand the role that a broad and vendor-independent community plays in mature open-source projects. More specifically, keep in mind that intellectual-property warrants and indemnities are strongest when vendors maintain more control over the source code pedigree.

The report also says that through 2011, less than 50 percent of Global 2000 IT organizations would have implemented a formal open-source adoption and management policy as part of an enterprise software asset management strategy. Open Source Software (OSS) has become unavoidable for most IT organizations. Open source is leveraged in virtually all mainstream enterprises. A comprehensive enterprise open-source adoption policy is the most important critical path towards establishing an optimal balance between risk and reward; however, less than 30 percent of IT organizations have such a policy in place.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Desi version of Google Earth launched by ISRO

Bhuvan gives you an easy way to experience, explore and visualize IRS images over Indian region.

ISRO is well known amongst space faring nations for its world-leading reputation in developing new, indigenous and innovative service oriented applications using remote sensing technology.

Over the past 2 decades, ISRO has mastered the art of developing these unique applications using various spectral, spatial and temporal resolutions offered by the versatile IRS satellites and these have been successfully institutionalized in many important areas of policy making, natural resources management, disaster support, and enhancing the quality of life across all sections of the society.

Bhuvan, an ambitious project of ISRO

Bhuvan is an initiative to showcase this distinctiveness of Indian imaging capabilities including the thematic information derived from such imagery which could be of vital importance to common man with a focus on Indian region. Bhuvan, an ambitious project of ISRO to take Indian images and thematic information in multiple spatial resolutions to people through a web portal through easy access to information on basic natural resources in the geospatial domain.

Bhuvan showcases Indian images by the superimposition of these IRS satellite imageries on 3D globe. It displays satellite images of varying resolution of India’s surface, allowing users to visually see things like cities and important places of interest looking perpendicularly down or at an oblique angle, with different perspectives and can navigate through 3D viewing environment.

The degree of resolution showcased is based on the points of interest and popularity, but most of the Indian terrain is covered upto at least 5.8 meters of resolution with the least spatial resolution being 55 meters from AWifs Sensor. With such rich content, Bhuvan opens the door to graphic visualisation of digital geospatial India allowing individuals to experience the fully interactive terrain viewing capabilities.

Bhuvan brings a whole lot of uniqueness

Multi-resolution images from multi-sensor IRS satellites of India is seamlessly depicted through the Bhuvan web portal by enabling a common man to zoom into specific area of interest at high resolution. Bhuvan brings a whole lot of uniqueness in understanding our own natural resources whilst presenting beautiful images and thematic vectors generated from varieties of geospatial information.

Bhuvan will also attempt to bring out the importance of multi-temporal data and to highlight the changes taking place to our natural resources, which will serve as a general awareness on our changing planet.

There are lot more special value added services which will be enabled onto the web portal in due course of time and each one of those services are going to be unique to preserving and conserving our precious natural resources through public participation. We are sure the common man will get rich benefits from these Indian geospatial data services in days to come.

Basic features of Bhuvan

Access, explore and visualise 2D and 3D image data along with rich thematic information on Soil, wasteland, water resources etc.

Visualise multi-resolution, multi-sensor, multi-temporal image data

Superpose administrative boundaries of choice on images as required

Visualisation of AWS ( Automatic Weather Stations) data/information in a graphic view and use tabular weather data of user choice

Fly to locations ( Flies from the current location directly to the selected location)

Heads-Up Display ( HUD) naviation controls ( Tilt slider, north indicator, opacity, compass ring, zoom slider)

Navigation using the 3D view Pop-up menu (Fly-in, Fly out, jump in, jump around, view point)

3D Fly through (3D view to fly to locations, objects in the terrain, and navigate freely using the mouse or keyboard)

Drawing 2D objects (Text labels, polylines, polygons, rectangles, 2D arrows, circles, ellipse)

Drawing 3D Objects (placing of expressive 3D models, 3D polygons, boxes)

Snapshot creation (copies the 3D view to a floating window and allows to save to a external file)

Measurement tools (Horizontal distance, aerial distance, vertical distance, measure area)

Shadow Analysis (it sets the sun position based on the given time creating shadows and effects the lighting on the terrain)

There would be many more value added functions and facilities which will be added into the package from time to time.

Particular interest of ISRO/DOS would be to provide such functionalities to common man so that he/she adopts participatory approach with scientists to solve simple problems easily and interactively.

Urban Design Tools (to build roads, junctions and traffic lights in an urban setting)

Contour map ( Displays a colorized terrain map and contour lines)

Terrain profile ( Displays the terrain elevation profile along a path)

Draw tools (Creates simples markers, free hand lines, urban designs)

Navigation map (to jump to and view locations in the 3D India)



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