January 27, 2008

"Very Good!", so said the white man

In today's Washington Post, there is a story that ostensibly describes Indians' obsession with fair skin. But a telling quote is from Riya Ray, 23, a dark-skinned Indian model: "My pictures are routinely Photoshopped to make me look a bit lighter -- a lot lighter, actually. But when I work in Britain and France, my color is praised as exotic. It is a two-way trend: Indian models are going abroad, and foreign models are coming here."

Another notable quote in that story is from Lokesh Mishra, general manager of marketing at Woodland Worldwide: "And we are also playing on the typical Indian mind-set that thinks if the white people are wearing our brand, then it must be good."

Posted by aswath at 11:32 AM | Comments (0)

January 09, 2008

Home iPhone

A skeptical Alec writes about an effort to build a home phone that John Sculley of OpenPeak positioned it as the iPhone for the home phoneline. He thinks such high-end phones have not fared well historically. Past experience suggests to him that such phones will be expensive enough to be “out of reach for the average consumer”. Furthermore he says that landline is a dying beast, so there will not be much demand for such phones. I feel that he is a bit quick in dismissing such attempts, even though I have my own reservations about this particular attempt.

First of all according to the PC Magazine story Alec references, the initial carrier partner for this phone could be Verizon. Indeed OpenPeak introduced this phone last year in the same CES. That time they revealed that Verizon will market this device as Fios Fone. Even though Verizon has a web page for this product in their website, I do not see any further development. So Alec may be right that this particular attempt will not go any further.

The phone is very unimaginative in many respects. To begin with the cordless technology that uses 1.9 MHz radio. Instead it should use DECT that can support wideband codecs (it is a VoIP phone as well and not just TDM as Alec seems to suggest). (Update: It is a DECT 6.0 phone, but it is not clear whether it supports a wideband codec.) Next it should support multi-handsets with the base station acts like a rudimentary PBX, which DECT facilitates. This way, each member of the family can have a designated handset and can target ring the handsets. The handsets should have a much bigger screen so as to provide enhanced user experience, like directory based dialing, ease of call control. There is no need to have any browsing and related functionalities at the base station. I have never used the base station at my home. When did you use yours last?

OpenPeak’s phone has a critical flaw. It acts like a service provider’s node, instead of the consumer’s device. A better approach is to market it as a consumer device, treat it as the “central office” and derive features from there without any further dependence on the service provider. This way there is no opportunity to levy any additional monthly fee.

I feel that Alec’s experience notwithstanding, I think such a phone can be built at competitive price. Currently, Costco retails DECT multi-set cordless phones for about $20 per piece (base station is $20, each handset is $20). I would hazard a guess that touch screen will add about $10 to the handset and Ethernet interface and ATA function will add $15 to the base station. But think about it: such a device will really add intelligence to the End and revolutionize both PSTN and VoIP marketplace.

Posted by aswath at 11:53 AM | Comments (3)

January 04, 2008

Robert (Scoble) Gandhi?

Yesterday Robert Scoble was in the news more than usual. He used a toll provided by Plaxo to scrape Facebook to retrieve his friends’ data. Since Facebook considers this to be against their Terms of Service, they blocked his account, but subsequently unblocked it. But before his account was unblocked he took questions from people at his video channel. In a response to a question, he glibly mentioned that yes he has broken the law before, like speeding on the highway and that Gandhi has broken laws as well. Predictably he is getting quite a ribbing for ostensibly equating his action to Gandhi’s civil disobedience movement. As I was listening to his comment, I didn’t take offence as an Indian. From the context it was clear that he was making light his actions and when he was pushed, he wanted to convey breaking law may not be bad in of itself. Now I take exception to his comparison because of his subsequent actions and I want to use this to establish one of my points.

Yes, Gandhi broke the laws repeatedly. But only those that he considers them to be immoral. But before breaking the law, he will make it clear to the law makers the reasons why he considers them to be immoral and that he will not obey them. Inevitably, the law makers will punish him for disobeying the law. He will patiently, without resistance undergo the punishment; sometimes imploring his adversaries to levy the punishment accorded by the same immoral law. But alas, Scoble appealed to Facebook to reinstate his account and apparently he has agreed to abide by the condition that he finds objectionable.

Let us hope that this event is equivalent to Gandhi being thrown off the train in South Africa. As a first step, he has joined DataPortability.org. But I want him to start a “homespun” movement. After all spinning wheels are available from a few people (including our own EnThinnai). Let us work together to perfect the wheel. There is no need to be locked within the walled garden. Swaraj now! Swaraj forever!

PS: If you are interested to add your comments, please visit the original post.

Posted by aswath at 04:05 PM | Comments (0)

Get Well, Om

Today I came to know that last week Om had a heart attack. But he is recovering fast. I hope he is back at his self soon. He has been a good friend and an early promoter of my writings.

Posted by aswath at 03:05 AM | Comments (0)

January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

This is to wish all of “You” a Happy New Year!

Last year was an interesting year because of my involvement in EnThinnai. Postings were fewer than usual, but some posts saw more traffic than usual. Thanks for continuing to read and hope you will find this blog to be of interest in the coming year as well. Thank you.

My Blog Traffic

Posted by aswath at 08:14 AM | Comments (0)

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