One month with the iPhone

So about a month ago, I did it. I took the leap and bought an iPhone, – in the process selling my Nokia E71, my Nokia E61, and my imate Windows Mobile. Didn’t end up putting in too much money out of pocket, plus took advantage of Vodafone offer of Rs. 500 off my phone bill for 10 months – effectively my iPhone 3g 8GB only cost me about Rs. 1500.00, so very thrilled..

After living with this phone for an even month – I am willing to effectively disown my own post written August last year. Sure there are some glaring flaws – not least of which the inability to copy and paste, and forward an SMS which are the only ones –  which really bother me.

The development platform that the iPhone SDK has empowered, really impresses me. Wether it is  an application like Ocarina, which turns the iPhone into the wind instrument by the same name, or Midomi, which does a fantastic job of identifying music that I have without any ID3 information. The fact that this is the first phone I have had that supports (almost) 3D gaming with games like ‘Hero of Sparta’ and ‘Super Monkey Ball’ . So much so that I paid for them…

That’s not to say that the free apps are not good – Stanza, a beautiful ebook reader that can plug into the Gutenburg free library and download books, as well as sharing them from my Mac. WifiRemote Lite which allows me to use the iPhone as a trackpad.

What about Jailbreak-ing – I did Jailbreak my phone twice, and found that the only app I needed to jailbreak for was a Keyboard extension that enabled copy and paste. I actually found my Jailbroken iPhone running slower (not tested scientifically but my impressions).

The last word – Im happy, I think my 6 monthly phone upgrade cycle may actually have ended. And the next upgrade would be to an iPhone with improved hardware 🙂

Google Malware warnings – Acting Up

It seems Google’s service wherein it protects you from suspicious site and malware generating site is acting up, As of 8:15pm India Time today all search results (Including Google.com, Microsoft.com, and Apple.com) are being highlighted as sites that way harm your computer. The safe browsing diagnostic page meanwhile does not seem to be working -  It seems like a gear fell out of the Googles :0. Initially  I thought this may have been a glitch with the Gmail Offline I had just installed, but then my brother and father complained that they probably had viruses on their machines, and the same problem, But my MacBook and Linux Machine had the same problem so there is something going on…

Wikipedia and donations

Wikipedia – the Community encyclopedia is looking for donations from the community again. And is fast approaching it’s target of 6 Million USD (currently sitting at 5.4 Million).

But.. would you give a donation to Wikipedia, to enable paychecks for its 23 Official members of staff. What about the rest of the Internet community (150000 strong) who is responsible for adding the content that makes wikipedia what it is.

I personally belive that wikipedia should run ads, like the rest of the blogging community and stop the funding drives every so often.

The bulk of the Open Source world acknoeledges the contributions of non-paying (cash) but givers of time.Wikipedia on the other hand, just finds it easier to ask for a dole out. Of that dole out less that 50% is going into technology to keep the encyclopedia running. Another 96K is going to the Wikimania conference. (A move which many in the corporate world would be avoiding right now, calling the travel to Beunos Aires a needless expenditure)

So I ask the question – would the donations (not tax free BTW) be handled correctly by the Wikipedia team?

Unlock your iPhone 3G

So.. it has finally happened. An application known as yellowsn0w has made it possible to unlock the iPhone 3G and use it with any network of your choosing.

Unlocking requires Jailbreaking your iPhone and then using the Cydia application installer to install yellowsn0w. Post installation it is a matter of removing the sim card and pushing a button. Voila .. unlocked iPhone.

Steps to unlock iPhone

  1. Update iPhone to version 2.2 firmware
  2. Run Pwnage
  3. Add the relevant Yellosnow repositories to cydia
  4. Download and install Yellowsnow
  5. Remove the Sim, run Yellowsnow
  6. Put in new sim.
  7. You’re done

So as I wait to purchase my iPhone 3g goodness, those of you who have it can unlock it for worldwide use.

🙂

3G auction delayed

The DoT has delayed the auction of the 3G spectrum by 14 days to January 30th. The nominal reason given is to give the potential bidders time to bone up on all steps of the auction.

Concerns – My one concern is that the winning bidders (I;m looking at Airtel and Vodafone here) despite having running test will still take their own sweet merry to roll out the services.

There should be a condition added to the auction – Ability to roll out services within 3 months of winning spectrum, Else you forfeit it.

Tripmela sells out its customers

So Tripmela, the travel meta search engine run by Jared Blank has put itself up for sale on eBay. But along with the company and its assets – it has also decided to sell 80000 strong, validated database as well. 

So I kind of read that as extremely unethical and I said so on Alootechie where I first read this and Jared actually commented, that his privacy policy allowed him to sell the database.

The core issue at play here is that Tripmela is planning to sell its database in seperation from the site on a platform like eBay without validating the buyer, wherein any Joker with a Credit Card can get peoples data. This underlying irresponsibility that is displayed is also a major cause that user privacy is a joke.

Jared reply to my comments on Alootechie

Hi Akhilesh,

It is not at all unusual for companies to sell their email list to an acquiring company – it happens with basically every company that has an email list.

We had it in our privacy policy from day one that our email list could be sold at some point.

Closing down isn’t an optimal situation for anybody (obviously), and we’re hoping that another group can provide our subscribers with the same types of great deals we’ve been showing for more than 2 years.

To which I can only say that

I have pulled up the tripmela privacy policy and the relevant two clauses

Business transitions
In the event Tripmela, Inc. goes through a business transition, such as a merger, acquisition by another company, or sale of all or a portion of its assets, your personally identifiable information will likely be among the assets transferred. Such transfer will be subject to this privacy policy, unless you are otherwise notified

Tripmela, Inc. is the sole owner of the information collected on Tripmela.com. Tripmela, Inc.collects personally identifiable information from our users at several different points on Tripmela.com, as described below.

… third parties are prohibited from using your personally identifiable information for any other purpose.

While the first clause allows you to sell the data, it actually would only allow you to sell the data as part of the site acquisition – and the acquiring party would only be able to use the data as part of ongoing operations with TripMela… not for use with any other site.

There is actually another issue and that on the sale of the site on eBay (currently at 90,700) itself, as per eBay’s Prohibited and Restricted Items List the sale of any form of personal data identifiable lists is not allowed.

Users have to be aware of what they are signing up for especially when they give detailed profiles. We cannot afford to become careless online… Read the terms and Conditions, read the Privacy Policies.

Life imitating Star Trek

How many people amongst us remember the crew of the USS Enterprise D running into an alien ship, – Up the ship’s captain comes in the viewscreen, and the message goes out – “ DaHjaj ‘oH QaQ jaj Da ”. The magical universal translator would kick in and convert it to ” Today is a good day to die” and the Klingon warbird would blow the Enterprise and its wimpy captain Jean Luc Picard to smithereens… Ok, Ok so i escaped into a bit of fantasy there – the destruction of the Enterprise D that is.. The first part though fantasy no more…

Thanks to Cisco and its Telepresence products videoconfrencing has become an absolute reality. Crystal clear picture and call quality and screen sizes actually belay the fact that parties may be on seperate sides of the world. The newest feature that Cisco is working on right now for telepresence is icing on the cake though,as Cisco will add real-time translation to its TelePresence high-definition conference technology next year, enabling people in several different countries to meet virtually and each hear the other participants’ comments in their own languages.

The service which would be rolled out in the second half of 2009, would be initially available in 20 languages, across a spectrum of continents and languages including Asia, European and Western languages.

Cisco is also planning to bring Telepresence to the consumer masses around the same time, making video-calling an ubiquitous reality – this was something that was hoped to have been achieved by 3G services worldwide, but video-calling never really caught on.

The translation system will be able to scale beyond two-way meetings, according to Cisco. In a press confrence demonstration on 10th of December Cisco executives gave the example of a TelePresence session among participants from four countries, speaking in four different languages. Each would be able to hear and read everyone’s words in his or her own language, they said.

 

Around the same time that the translation system becomes available, Cisco will offer a transcription feature  to perform speech-to-text conversion of video content. This will create a searchable word-for-word transcript and allow users to go directly to the spot in a video they want to see.

UK Wikipedia content filters removed

In what is obviously a win for net users worldwide, UK ISPs have removed the controversial filtering of conten that a governing body construed as possible child pornography.

It was a side effect of this filtering which would also disallow UK residents from activly editing other Wikipedia pages, as it prevented the IP protectection features of Wikipedia from working correctly. This was due the fact, that the whole of UK had been given 1 IP. This would have pulled down the whole superstructure of the community encyclopedia for the UK.

It is a scary fact that this was ever allowed to happen, a self governing – albeit non-profit -  body was given control over content that effects an entire country.