Friday, July 31, 2009

I hate the fact that...

- Yahoo f***ing sold out to Microsoft
As an ardent follower and loyal fan of Yahoo! search since 2000, this is really a kick in my gonads.

- There is almost no good news reported by the news agencies these days

- It's getting harder and harder to save my brain from atrophy

- The King County assessor thinks my house isn't worth how much I owe on my loan

- Green cards are so friggin hard to get for us legitimate applicants. Sometimes I wish I applied for asylum status...

The list is endless, and maybe this is just a Friday evening thing. Maybe a short nap will lift my spirits...

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Open Letter to Yahoo! CEO Carol Bartz

Update: Techcrunch did this quick analysis of the change in Yahoo! and Microsoft stock today: Yahoo Got Binged, and how!

Hi Carol,

Thanks for the post on the Yahoo-Microsoft announcement. As a shareholder, one aspect of this merger isn't sitting well with me - future revenue growth.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that this deal gives Bing the impetus it needs and 5 years from today, its market share stands at 40% (from <10% today). Knowing Microsoft, it is sure to re-negotiate its giving away 88% of revenue generated from clicks originating from Yahoo! properties, thereby resulting in reduced Yahoo! revenues. Another immediate impact of this merger is the doubt this casts on the future of Yahoo! Search APIs, Yahoo!'s much praised BOSS initiative, Yahoo!'s new Searchpad, et al.

Over the next few years, is the plan to focus on other ventures that will add to Yahoo!'s bottom-line? With the balance sheet in the state it is in currently, and with Search being the cash cow, unless Yahoo! strikes gold in a new venture, I don't see how revenue projections can be met. Maybe I am missing something here, as is the rest of the blogosphere, some shareholders and the developers building on top of Yahoo!'s platform.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Steps to Integrate an HXS into an MSI

Walkthrough: Registering and Integrating a Help Collection By Using Windows Installer

MSDN is a great resource; alas, finding relevant information on it is very difficult for two reasons. Firstly, no search engine does a good job of indexing the files. Secondly (and primarily), the page authors give the pages the most obscure possible titles. Take for instance the page I just linked to: why can't the summary be "Steps to Integrate HXS into MSI"? Since the page author hasn't done this, I have. It's all in the hands of the Google web spiders now - once they pick up this page and index it, others like me looking for this information won't have to search as much.

To use my close friend Juggy's favorite quote - "Power to the People!"

Hokum - Survey Shows Almost No One Will Switch To Microsoft Bing

Third, yes, Bing has added some cool innovations, but nothing that Google can't and won't copy immediately.

And that gets to the heart of Microsoft's problem here: Search isn't broken. The reason almost 70% of folks use Google is that most folks like Google and most folks are used to Google. If there's a 'better' search engine out there, most people probably don't know that it's better (because it's really hard to tell--in part because 'better' is in the eye of the beholder), and many people who can tell probably don't care.
A specious argument, at best, because it doesn't take history into account. When Google was first launched, people were very happy with the search options they had - Altavista and Yahoo. No one even thought they would switch to Google; case in point - Yahoo! is still the top dog in the AMEA markets. Google established a search monopoly only a few years ago, and though it has made incremental strides in its offerings since launch, it hasn't done anything along the lines of a revamp that Microsoft has undertaken with Bing.

Any prognostications on the future of the Search engine market are doomed to failure, because no one can really predict the psyche of users. If Bing continues to innovate past the "honeymoon" stage of its launch, I would be hard pressed to believe that it won't eventually take market share away from Google. Apropos the discussion of Google copying Bing, two things come to mind. First up, a few months ago, no one would even entertain the idea that Google needed to copy anything from Microsoft - the Bing team should pat themselves on the back for a moment. Seconly, the problem with copycat implementations is that people are observant enough to recognize one on sight; human behavioral studies have shown that "discerning" people usually pick the original over the ersatz version.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fix - AT&T The Remote Party has ended this connection

Use the automatic settings manager under All Programs -> Accessories -> Connection Setup so that you get MEdiaNEt as a GPRS connection configured on your phone. Mind you, the configuration as pushed to your phone by AT&T doesn't really work.

The fix:
Go to Settings>Connections>GPRS,
Highlight IMS CINGULAR And click ok.
It should Connect to: The Internet
Under Access Point It currently says: ims.cingular
THIS IS THE PROBLEM HERE>>>>>>>> Change this to:
USER Name: Should Be Blank
Password: Should Be Blank
Authentication: Should be CHAP
Primary DNS:
Secondary DNS:
IP ADDRESS: should Be Blank As well...

It's been a while...

Since I:
- Had to completely reset my phone and start afresh. Apparently, sending and receiving about 3000 text messages and never deleting them from your phone is a bad idea. The database gets really corrupted - like I knew that was gonna happen
- Was part of a team that won its semi-final match and is headed to an ARCL divisional final. Hurrah!
- Came to work on a Sunday at 8pm
- Didn't have Internet at home
- Won a squash match this emphatically (4-0)

But enough bullet points; you would mistake this for a powerpoint presentation. I have been mulling over a few topics to write forth on, but the last two weeks have been the most hectic of 2009 (or so it seems). Arun married Purvie last weekend, and as one of his close friends in Seattle, I was assigned a few tasks during the wedding. All but one went off very smoothly, and in my books, that's a job well done. Surd was in town this past week as well - the guy unfortunately got the flu while on vacation, and unintentionally left it behind for me to pick it up as well. I've had a scratchy throat and have run a fever since Friday, but it isn't anything serious. At least not serious enough to prevent me from playing every sport I like this weekend!

Kapil, Prachie and Aadi have moved to Seattle from Dallas, and I couldn't have asked for something better. In Kapil, I have found a partner in crime for all my sporting activities - he plays tennis, cricket, golf, squash and racquetball - yippee! Wait, I forgot to mention, he just ran the Dallas half marathon (maybe it was the Austin one); more motivation for me to run and a companion that is willing to schlepp it to the West Side every now and again. The pot gets sweeter by the day.

In what I believe is the natural progression of things, Ashish and I tried something new last evening - we went to a lounge and spent quality time with Samrah and her friends. The outcome was surprising to us both - the conversation was crisp, the people were friendly, and there was none of the show-boarding that so characterizes trips to a club or bar in Belltown. The two of us have vowed to have more nights like these - where the people are few yet interesting, and we can walk away feeling like we learned something about someone new, rather than nothing about everyone around us. Next week, it's Lauren's house warming party...

On to the new week it is. My work is progressing at a good clip and this week is going to fly by pretty fast. I'll be in Vegas, India and Hawaii over the next two months - give me a shout if you're going to be in any of these locales, and I'll share my dates with you. Have a good week.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Adobe Flash and a HUGE missed opportunity with HTML5 video

Update: Thanks to John Gruber, Wikipedia and an Anonymous Reader, I now know that FLV is just a container format. The contained video still needs to be encoded with a specific codec; H.264 and Ogg are the prevalent codecs to accomplish this.

The author of the HTML5 specification has given up on resolving, what can best be termed an impasse, the issue with the <video> tag. The issue is that H.264 and Ogg Theora are being considered as the de facto video encodings for the Web of tomorrow, but no browser vendor can provide cross platform implementations of both codecs. Some vendors have expressed concerns around patents, while others have raised valid concerns about the encoding quality of Ogg. In all of this, I wonder why no one is even considering Adobe Flash's FLV format as the one "format" that rules them all. Most video on the web is delivered via the Flash player. The choice of video codec should therefore be a no-brainer!

It isn't, and the only thing I can think of is licensing of the FLV codec. That's hokum though - the flash codec is already installed on more than 90% of computers in the world today. Adobe has been more than responsive with fixing security issues, has a great track record with providing both tools to edit videos and has invested heavily in improving the encoder's quality over the last 10 years. Can someone help me understand why FLV is being marginalized here?