Thursday, December 27, 2007

Problem 1: IP

I have started a small series about the problems I think about regularly and have found no answers yet. Here's the first installment:

For all the non-ComSci folks out there, IP= intellectual property. Its the buzzword used by everyone these days to protect their innovation.

Intellectual Property is the basis of patents, licenses, copyrights and everything guarding unauthorized use of knowledge. If I be audacious enough to proclaim that knowledge should not be hoarded and should be made freely available to all, the age old argument of "reward for innovation" crops up.. nobody can innovate with an empty stomach and it would definitely be bAAAAd to have some smart ass marketing guy steal your years of research and create a million dollar startup out of thin air.

The situation is worse than it seems to be. This became visible to me when I left the academia. Without the academia's massive library at my disposal I need to have ACM and IEEE subscription to get a decent article on any advanced topic. If all the work done by the academia is such a closely guarded secret, how can they even complain about the growing divide between the industry and itself? I refuse to pay $20 for a single paper!! I have been meaning to check the latest in digital search trees and all google, and yahoo search engines leads me to is some totally shallow ppt or to citeseer, which inturn redirects me again to ACM/IEEE.... Arrrghh

Let me stop picking on academia for a second and focus on the rest of the world. Piracy (of ideas, content) exists when supply does not match the demand. Apple is cribbing about fake iPhones in China, had they launched it there(one of the fastest growing economies), they wouldn't have lost the market . Software piracy falls in the same category.. its very rampant in India, being an Indian I can tell that no one would pay $300 for a genuine copy of Windows on $400 machine that they assembled at home. Most of the sales guy tend to concentrate on only the local markets.. bad strategy in my opinion.

We live in a predominantly closed society. If everything was open, we would have a better chance of surviving the future... Just like Maemo and Ubuntu were spawned off from Debian, some new and better OSes would have spawned from Windows(XP?) and OSx. We would have better algorithms and the knowledge distribution would have been uniform rather than spiked throughout the world. This is not to say that you wont have cheap knockoffs of a Macbook pro.. but atleast it will give Apple/MS an incentive to innovate.. it will be a tougher competition, not lack of it.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Gadget bonanza...

A week ago on Black Friday, I purchased a Canon Rebel XT DSLR camera. It's not the coolest camera on earth, but it is the perfect entry level camera for a hobbyist and amateur photographer like me and fits smugly into my budget too. I had been busy for the past few days getting acquainted with all its features, terminology and the sheer number of settings to be made to take a sellable pic. Since I hardly get any time these days, I was taking a long time to get "OMG" pictures..

Just when I thought I had my share of toys.. I got another shiny one.. Nokia N800. At Mailshell, we have an annual game event when we play some RPG and the whole company plays against the bots or someone online as a team..but the trouble was that the developers almost never had the "right" operating system and it took ages to get the games working on all the machines.. The CEO, Tonny, decided to give everyone a common platform, a Nokia N800.

Its a neat little piece of hardware running a modified version of Debian. Unfortunately Tonny underestimated the geekdom in the development team :P. The CTO flashed the device and upgraded the OS to a newer kernel. I installed ssh, opened an xterm on it and was apt-getting away to glory, started pairing it with all the bluetooth devices I had access to (keyboard, cell phone)... i.e we did everything, but played games on it. The damn thing wouldn't connect (mostly because we had just hacked the stuff to run on the beta OS)... nevertheless it met its purpose.. we hacked away as a team :D.

I can hardly wait for the weekend to really get dirty with it.. for starters I will install a sniffer on it with crackers and keyloggers to see how much data I can gather during one casual stroll to the neighboring Starbucks :P .. just kidding.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

What's going on?

I was just reading my past few entries and realized a dip in content quality and quantity. Most of you would have assumed that after joining the workforce my life has become monotonous with me working from 9 to 5 and having an early dinner and sleeping early at 10 (ew ew.. bored guy cooties) . I assure you that is not the case... After a bit of soul searching I have come up with a list.
  1. I am in CA dude!! I have been exploring this place for the past 6 months. There were hardly any weekends when I was home. San Deigo, LA, SF etc etc.. so less time with my computer during weekends.
  2. Joined the workforce so no time during the weekdays.. of course you would argue that I am not working for the whole day, but there is something about f*ing with your brain for eight hours that renders it useless for the rest 12 hours... I dont even bother to log in to my IM.
  3. I have CABLE now.. after 6 years without the tube, its back to ruin my schedule. It has taken the time away from reading, music listening, podcasts and other activities that caused info overload and instead made me addicted to useless comedies, thrillers and reality shows.. the writer's strike has come as a blessing.. no matter how hard I try I cant resist it.
  4. Travel does not excite me much.. I have seen the tallest trees in Yosemite, ice capped dormant volcano from a height of 15000 feet during free fall, world famous waterfall(Niagara).. so any new landmark has a pretty high bar to cross to make it to my blog.
  5. Linux.. is ready for prime time. There is hardly any tinkering I need to do with it.. makes me almost miss the RH7 days. So there is no interesting hack to boast about.
  6. I hardly check out any new softwares these days.. few years ago I used to test almost all the linux versions that used to hit the magazines, try all the new audio players etc.. am pretty content with my ubuntu and Debian boxes... plus am working with my own software so any free non-braindead moment is meant just for my stuff.
  7. My adult life has adulterated my innocent little geeky life. You know you are in a mess when you keep track of bills, taxes, policies and loans :(
  8. I can hardly use my blog with an open mind... there is alway an HR, relative , friend watching.. waiting to get offended.
  9. Lastly.. I finally got a DSLR and am trying my best to tame the beast.. but the instructional books and videos say that it will take weeks for me to master the basic modes :( .. assuming I am clicking everyday!!
  10. I didn't like the idea of a 9 item list.. so this is the 10th one, just for the heck of it.