Saturday, July 28, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
As the open-source v/s closed source debate rages on with companies and brands on either side of the fence each trying to gain the upper hand, it seems that Microsoft has started to change its policies to ensure sustained control of the software markets.
A perfect example of this is Microsoft's policy in China which includes tolerating piracy - one of the reasons why China has not yet woken up to the Linux-driven open-source revolution. Apparently, it took Microsoft nearly 15 years of struggle in the Chinese markets and billions of lost dollars to formulate its plan of pricing its products at the lowest possible rates and working in sync with the Chinese government - a policy that has paid dividends. Apparently Bill Gates says that while it was terrible that people in China pirated so much software, if they were going to pirate anybody's software he'd certainly prefer it be Microsoft's.
So does this prove that Microsoft is worried about maintaining its long-standing dominance of the software markets? You bet. Open-source is both the present and the future. Why must Windows be priced exorbitantly when all its features (and even some more powerful than those) are present in Linux which you can all download and use for free? The people in Redmond realize this grave threat to business and there are some policies which indicate changes are afoot.
For example, take the instance of Microsoft releasing Visual Studio Express Editions for free. Maybe it realizes that with so many languages all packed with platform-independent features available in the market (Java, Python to name a few) it can't afford to rely on its Windows environment to ensure the survival of its Visual Studio suite. And hence the available free downloads (albeit with restricted features yet enough of them to be going on with.)
So is Microsoft going the 'free' way? Apparently not, if reports of patent terrorism are to be believed.
So will it finally give up its policy of trying to preserve its intellectual property by obfuscation? Will it realize that opening up their source codes will accelerate the development of computing? Doesn't look like it.
For the biggest argument that closed-source has is the attempt to protect intellectual property at all costs. Time for that to change, methinks.
Speaking of protection of intellectual property, there is interesting and most disturbing evidence emerging of an increasing number of lawsuits by inventors of new treatment technologies, citing infringement of their intellectual property that is threatening to interfere with effective treatment of patients. I mean, imagine what happened if you went for a surgery where it would take three weeks to recover fully instead of one where you could be up and running in three days flat only because the latter is protected by patents all over the board.
Perhaps it is time we looked hard and long at the concept of intellectual property and patents and did something to change the fact that the current system is proving to be a hindrance to progress and innovation.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Well, isn't this what we found splashed all across our television screens on the morning of the 8th. With the satisfaction of averting a self-dreamt national insult behind us, people went all out to celebrate (or so the media would have us believe) The most ironic thing that I find though within hours of declaring 'THE NEW 7 WONDERS OF THE WORLD', the same website now calls for 'THE 7 NEW NATURAL WONDERS OF THE WORLD' - a list that is to be announced on 8.8.08.
Probably this is something that is beyond what I think - in other words, it does not matter what I think about this...after all, everything is done and dusted and the list - a result of millions of votes from across the world - has been released. But I do question the validity of this list.
How do you define a wonder? This in itself is a very subjective question and the boundary lines which differentiate this question from others on many aesthetic and metaphysical issues are probably so blurred that I'd rather not go into this topic.
Of more interest to me is the nature of people who have voted in this poll. The obvious fact that most of the people who've voted haven't ever visited the monuments they have voted for. Can such a voter imagine the awe that must fill a devotee when he/she stands in the shadow of Christ the Redeemer atop the Sugarloaf mountain in Rio? Can such a voter feel the throb of a hunger for blood and savagery which a gladiatorial bout in the Colosseum would have elicited centuries ago? Can such a voter truly appreciate the ingenuity involved in building the Great Wall of China for the purpose of imperial defence?
Instead of a survey that weighed in these factors plus many more like architectural ingenuity and difficulty, significance and symbolism, we got a poll where heavily populated nations could dominate the voting and hence push forth their candidates.
All said and done, I feel that the bottom line remains as to how we can compare these great monuments and grade them as better than the other. How can we choose to honour some monuments and not others, despite the fact that they all stand for the same thing - the triumph of human creativity and ingenuity as mankind strove (as it still does) for a world that stands for comfort, beauty, love and happiness.
I was watching an episode of Doogie Howser, M.D., during one of its re-runs earlier today, and there was this brilliant quote -
"They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Maybe if we all spent a little less time beholding -- We'd be a lot happier."
Simple and meaningful, ain't it?
Sunday, July 8, 2007
Why Tiger Woods' Quest for Golfing Immortality is Tougher than Roger Federer's Shot at All-Time Tennis Supremacy
Well, this is another one of those long-title posts, though I doubt the contents will be as long. Just for some background info though, let it make it clear to all that I'm both a Tiger Woods and a Roger Federer fan, so do not doubt me for someone who favours one over the other.
I just mean to say that Woods' shot at trying to surpass Jack Nicklaus' record of 18 major wins is a task that i difficulty, surpasses Federer's attempt at beating Sampras' record of 14 Grand Slam wins. Here are the reasons why-
1) In golf, you compete not only against your opponents but also against the golf course, which in short means nature itself. After all, the conditions on the golf course may change in an instant. In tennis though, you at least have the luxury of knowing that if the conditions change, they will be equally difficult for both the players.
2) No sportsman has generated as much fear in the hearts of opponents as Tiger has done, though Federer comes a close second.
3) This one clinches it for me - Tiger's will to win. He rebuilt his swing when he was at the top of his game just to make sure that by the time the field caught up to his standards then, he would be miles ahead on his own.
Having said all this, I must acknowledge that both of this gentlemen are great sportsmen who embody the whole gamut of values that sports are supposed to generate in a sportsman. And as a sports man, I feel privileged to live in an era when we see these two giants of their sport chase sporting immortality even after they've both achieved greatness.
P.S. All said and done, today's final between Roger and Rafa was the best men's tennis match I saw since Sampras beat Agassi 6-7 7-6 7-6 7-6 in the 2001 US Open quarter finals. Kudos to both players!
Sunday, July 1, 2007
This is my last night in Pune for quite some time, as it now seems to appear from the plans that we've made for ourselves. Of course, even the best laid plans have loopholes in them, and they do tend to allow themselves to be modified by situations, occurrences and people.
The trip in itself, while being quite delightful (if only because I met many old acquaintances - among them friends and relatives), was an experience in itself for me, primarily because it was the first housewarming ceremony I've ever been a part of. It's kind of strange how even the most simple-seeming event of coming to live in a house can lend itself to all sorts of pomp, celebration and rituals.
I wonder how all this started - I mean, the observance of housewarming. Did the rituals originate out of a desire to please the Gods and seek their blessings at the start of this new abode one begins to inhabit? Did the pomp arise out of the need to express fully - in a truly extrovert way - the joy of moving into a new home? Did the celebrations start as an attempt to celebrate the big and small joys of life - moving into a new home being one of them? And do these questions really matter with all things being observed the way they are and everything happening the way things such as these usually do? If any one has any theory related to this, or better still, the answers to these questions, I'd love to listen to them.
I believe that questions are one of the many that can be asked when we deal with matters of faith and belief. After all, what is faith but an unwavering belief in a curious hunch we have? That hunch being the belief that there is something greater at work in our lives and in those of people around us, something which makes us part of a whole - a whole that is integral to the working of the entire universe, a whole which has so many cogs in the form of all things - animate and inanimate - yet which cannot work properly even if a single cog breaks down and stops functioning without a ready replacement. What is faith but a round-about way of glorifying oneself and making one believe that one is important enough to be the cynosure of a pair of eyes (maybe more) watching over one, from somewhere in the universe?
I now remember that night last semester when I was having some fun at a formatting session with our EPC psenti-semites. That was the first time when I'd really met and gotten to know them and amidst all the fun, just as we were going to ANC, trying to alleviate our fear that there was too much matter to publish and we'd have to bring out a 10-page issue or worse, a 12-page issue, Shibanka da asked me (out of the blue, mind you) about the school of philosophy I can most relate to. And to his vote for existentialism, I replied with a word which I'm not quite sure is a school of philosophy at all - that word being individualism.
For me, my faith is an extension of my individual identity. It is mine and mine alone, and I can explain it to no one - not my friends, nor my family. It is the thing that keeps my ship sailing when I find negative thoughts crowding my brain. My faith helps me live through all those periods of self-doubt that I have all too often. It gees me up when I wonder if I'm good enough to do something…it keeps me grounded and modest when I feel the elation of accomplishment, constantly reminding me that there are tougher challenges to come and taller achievements to conquer…it keeps me upbeat when things go wrong, reminding me of the countless times I've learnt from mistakes.
That is why I can’t explain where I place my faith. That is why I can't describe the voice which my polymorphic faith assumes. All I can describe is what it does for me - it gives me a reason to believe in myself, to expect something good to emanate from whatever faculties I possess and to appreciate all the things I should be grateful for in my life.