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Archive for May, 2005

The Death of Commercial Software

CD's pile

Open Source software might slowly conquer the market according to this item from IT Manager’s Journal:

Is the enterprise software business dying? Is anybody out there buying new licenses? Based on news from the past few weeks, it seems that there are very few buyers. The collapse of new licensing revenue isn’t news — it started five years ago — but the latest news makes it look like a permanent and accelerating fact of life for software vendors.

Regarding operating systems and the take on computers in general, Clayton Hallmark from Argentina predicts that low cost computers from Asia will bring Microsoft to its end.

MOBILIS
MOBILIS apparently goes for only $220 in India

From PageRank to Alexa Rank

PageRank

It appears as though Google removed PageRank from the public. No official announcement has been made though. Google once warned about abuse of public PageRank and trading of links. They were probably most dissatisfied by the involvement of AdSense, their advertising program, in the midst of this abuse.

It is difficult to surf the Web without an indicator of any kind. It is hard to establish trust in information unless there is a measure of reliability bound to it. As a substitute, Alexa rank can be used as part of a Firefox extension called SearchStatus. Alexa rank is not as verbose and dynamic as PageRank, but it is far better than nothing.

AlexRank
SearchStatus in action

Intel Sidles Closer to Microsoft

Bill Gates
Bill Gates arrested in his younger days (photo in public domain)

Intel are approaching dangerous territories as they now embed Microsoft-specific functionality (namely DRM) at hardware level. From DIGIT:

It will get worse before it gets better, according to your point of view, because Intel continues behind the scenes to push hard on the trusted computing modules and Microsoft’s future OS is expected to implement these features in full.

This politically-incorrect move gives one more reason to opt for AMD, who are crushing Intel already.

Farewell PageRank, Welcome TrustRank?

PageRank

For the past day or two, the Google PageRank indicator has been greyed out (or invisible in Mozilla Firefox — see above). There are speculations and rumours regarding the reason:

Is it the end of Google Pagerank as we know it? Is Google replacing or eliminating our ability to read the value of a website (as they see it)

Google’s “Trust Rank” algorithm has been around for a while, but I don’t believe fully implemented. Maybe we’re seeing the change from Pagerank to TrustRank.

The thread makes insightful observations, but the original poster fails to provide information to support his statements. Also, the transition to a new ranking system would have been seamless. Are Google preparing an announcement and halt PR in the interim? This has already lasted too long to be a technical fault.

Del.icio.us Import and Export

Gentle Introduction to Del.icio.us

Del.icio.us is a fast-growing social bookmarks network. It enables people to centralise their bookmarks (favourites) on-line, share them with others, and even view bookmarks of people whose interests intersect. This also provides insight into the popularity of links.

Each bookmark in Del.icio.us can be delivered as an RSS feed, which can then be added to the native browser as a live bookmark, i.e. a dynamic bookmark whose source is remote. Bookmarks as such are still significantly slower than a personal portal.

del.icio.us
An example of a del.icio.us bookmark

Import/Export in Del.icio.us

Here is one major pitfall: Del.icio.us do not yet incorporate import and export facilities, which is surprising. This has two implications:

  • All bookmarks are dependent upon a remote source, namely del.icio.us. They may not always be available and there is a vendor lock-in situation.
  • Assemblage of bookmarks must begin from scratch, with little or no chance for re-use.

There are third-party solutions, but they are not ideal:

Keeping Track of Google

Eye of the News

There are (at least) 3 conceivable methods to keeping track of Google:

  • Google Alerts: HTML-formatted E-mails which occasionally get sent. Recent changes in SERP‘s of interest are highlighted.
  • Perl and Cron Jobs: keeping track of Google from the command-line.
  • RSS Feeds: RSS interface to Google search results (Ben Hammersley).

Travelling and Status

Warning: this is a rant

I have become absolutely fed up with travel. Travelling seems rather analogous to brocoli. Even though it offers benefits, it is fairly hard to digest. Having come back from Oxford 2 days ago, I asked myself:

  • Did I enjoy my time there? Definitely not.
  • Was I under the impression that this research meeting would be different? Maybe fun even? Definitely yes; I was hoping, as always.

Should I have any guilt? Is it a bloat of ego? I believe not. When one speaks, then attendance clearly becomes necessary. If the purpose of presence is merely to fill a chair, why not stay home and support more meaningful projects? I have come to realise that travelling is nothing beyond an opportunity to brag; Yes, it is all about social status. It prevents me from doing what I love doing and what I think touches more people — programming, experiments, technical support and the like.

I was about to register for a conference in Colorado last night (IPMI 2005). After looking at the cost (nearing $2000 including the flights) and considering how unnecessary this would be, I couldn’t help but change my mind. I am co-author of a paper to be presented, but not first author. In other words, my presence is pointless.

People say that conferences are a good venue to meet people and “show your face”. This notion stems from older day, when paper were the primary means by which to disseminate research work. The Internet allows us to interact with people and actively work rather than just ‘absorb’ information or try to stay awake in far-away lecture theatres.

I expressed similar sentiments back in January. To many, travelling around the world is about new places to cross out and off the map. What is it that drives sp many to become the next Christopher Columbus? Inarguably, there is nothing to be discovered. An Internet search will reveal stories and photos from each and every part of the world. Perhaps travel has become a norm, which is simply hard to dismiss. I have come to the very same conclusion many times before:

“There is no place like home”

Small home

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