Saturday, April 7, 2012

Team Anna launches SMS service

Team Anna has launched a pan-India SMS card to spread information about the campaign against corruption. One crore cards, priced at Rs 25, have been issued in the first phase and are doing brisk business in Uttar Pradesh.

The scratch card, which comes with a specific number, a Team Anna core member said, has been issued keeping in mind the "sometimes positive, negative and neutral" coverage by the media.

This, India Against Corruption (IAC) activists say, leaves the supporters either confused or ill-informed.

The Anna SMS Card, once purchased, would keep the holder informed about activities of IAC for one year.

With a data base of more than three crore mobile numbers, the service, if used in one go for bulk SMSing, would cost IAC Rs5 lakh at the existing market rate for SMSes.

"Faced with fund crunch, IAC has decided to rake up the money from the supporters," said Vaibhav Maheshwari, an active member of Team Anna in Uttar Pradesh.

How Microsoft is wooing app developers

Image Nowadays, cellphones are all about apps. AndMicrosoft is so determined to have lots of brand-name apps for its Windows Phone app store that it's willing to pay for them. 

All an app developer has to do is sign on the dotted line. 

After years of struggling in the phone market, Microsoft teamed up with Nokia last year to challenge the dominance of Apple and Google, which makes the Android operating system. The latest fruit of their collaboration is a gleaming machine called the Lumia 900, which goes on sale in the United States on Sunday and is considered to be the first true test of how well the partnership will fare. 

But the hundreds of thousands of apps that run on Apple and Android devices will not work on phones like the Lumia 900 that use Microsoft's Windows Phone software. And many developers are reluctant to funnel time and money into apps for what is still a small and unproven market. So Microsoft has come up with incentives, like plying developers with free phones and promising prime spots in its app store and in Windows Phone advertising. 

It is even going so far as to finance the development of Windows Phone versions of well-known apps - something that app makers estimate would otherwise cost them from $60,000 to $600,000, depending on the complexity of the app. The tactic underscores the strong positions ofGoogle and Apple, neither of which have to pay developers to make apps. 

When Microsoft offered to underwrite a Windows Phone version of Foursquare, the mobile social network, Holger Luedorf, Foursquare's head of business development, did not hesitate to say yes

How IBM‘s Big Data Guy Found A Career In Chaos

As a marketing director in IBM's Big Data group, Charlie Schick helps scientists and health care providers use computing to pick out meaningful patterns from chaotic-seeming sequencing data or volumes of digital medical records. His resume might suggest he charted a path to get here--an important position in a huge company, working at the bleeding edge of the convergence of biology and computing. But chaos played a big part in Schick's career, too; a nearly unbounded curiosity is the thread that runs through it.
After college, Schick spent 12 years doing post-graduate research in molecular biology at MIT and Children's Hospital Boston, and teaching as a junior faculty member at Harvard Medical School. He spent another decade working as a tech journalist and doing marketing, product development, and online media at Finnish phone maker Nokia, before returning to the U.S., immersing himself in Boston's DIY bio scene, and ultimately finding a new way to deploy his unique skill set. Here, Schick discusses his atypical career path, and the modern necessity of being a polymath.
FAST COMPANY: You have a really varied resume. Does that make it easy or hard to sell yourself to an employer?
CHARLIE SCHICK: When I started looking for a way to get back into science, everyone looked at me and said, 'You're a marketing guy, or you're a tech guy.' That's a problem with job-hopping--everyone points to the thing they don't want. Finding this job was total luck. In November 2010, I applied for a digital-media job at a data warehouse appliance company called Netezza, which, I didn't know, was in the process of being acquired by IBM. That job was no longer available, but after the company was became part of IBM, I was contacted about an opening for someone with health care experience to market big-data solutions to health care and life science companies. My group is like a startup inside the company, teaching the greater IBM how to do things. It's a general theme in my career--someplace doesn't have the job I wanted, but they have this other one.
What prompts you to keep mixing things up?
It's partly the wanderlust in my family. My dad was born in Germany and my mom is Brazilian, and they hopped around a lot. The longest my dad worked for someone was six years. That was really unusual for the time. Both my parents are in their 80s now and still moving around. We're all ADHD. I have a really broad interest base. In college and grad school, my advisers always asked me to focus.
I'm not a money chaser--that's usually secondary. I've found as long as do what I love, it will turn out okay. When I was at Nokia, I was really interested in mobile--it was everything I was thinking about. When my interest turned back to science, I started looking for the next thing. Now I can gab about big data, streaming data, all day and still get deep into genomics, science, and medicine. I'm in that zone where it's like, 'I do this for a living?'
About Generation Flux Pioneers of the new (and chaotic) frontier of business Flagship Fluxers, Photo: Brooke Nipar
In our February 2012 issue Fast Company Editor Robert Safian identified a diverse set of innovators who embrace instability, tolerate--and even enjoy--recalibrating careers, business models, and assumptions. People like author/Onion digital media maverick Baratunde Thurston, Greylock Data Scientist DJ Patil, Microsoft Senior Researcher danah boyd, and GE's Beth Comstock. This series continues to explore the new values of GenFlux. Find more Fluxers here. And tweet your contributions using #GenFlux.
How'd you go from molecular biology to Nokia?
While I was doing lab work, I volunteered for a science-by-mail program through the Boston Museum of Science, and I started using web tools to interact and talk with kids about science. Around this time, I also started doing some online tech reviews as a way to get free software that I needed for the lab. At the same time, my dad was working in IT and subscribed to a weekly called InfoWorld. I'd borrow those and read everything that people like Bob Metcalfe were writing about the deregulation of telecom in the mid-'90s and what the future of telecom looked like. Inspired by that, I ended up leaving the lab and going to write for a friend who was starting a telecom portal. Leaving an academic lab in my day was absolutely insane. I was doing interesting work, I was publishing research in journals, but this other thing--the idea that everything was going online--really caught my attention.
In 2000, I found out that Nokia was looking for a native English speaker to write documentation for them. I visited their headquarters in Finland and loved it. My first writing job there was a job ad for a marketing person. When I was done, my boss suggested that I take the job. That's how I got into marketing. From there, I got involved in some internal venture challenges, and that led to a proper product-management role.
How has your conception of your career changed over time?
I spend a lot of time thinking about the experience I've been accumulating and looking for a common thread. When I look at my skill set--making products, tech, understanding science--I kind of see myself as a bridge. I'm someone who understands the fundamentals and can translate that into some kind of story, possibly a story that someone wants to buy.
In retrospect, what were some mistakes that you made?
I refuse to have regrets--I'd make the same decisions now--but the part that hurts when you hop around is you lose momentum. Many people I know in science have multiple interests--music or hobbies--but they can stick to one thing in the lab for a long time. I see what you can get if you apply 25 years to same thing. Now I think in terms of 10-year blocks to keep me from chasing every squirrel. Since coming back to U.S., I've also been working on a startup idea called Practical Microbes, to commercialize naturally occurring microorganisms for composting, probiotics, and other useful applications. Throughout my career, I've been motivated by the desire to create something-- whether that's a web service, a new protein, or a new organism--and I don't feel I've created what I want to yet.
How do you incorporate ways of thinking from your earlier work with what you're doing now at IBM?
Even if they don't get into academic research, I think everyone could benefit from what you learn from a science PhD--how to think, do research, ask questions, and set up things to get answers. Scientists see the world very differently. They question everything. When I got into the business world, no one looked at data. I would rip it apart. I was a different from a lot of marketers because I actually wanted to understand how things worked. I had to understand all the technology myself, which meant I could translate it for others.
I've tried to make sure I can think across domains. I ask people to teach me about what they're doing--it may not apply to what I'm doing right now, but it's interesting. My feeling is that moving forward in the job market, people must have a multi-disciplinary background. The idea that you need to have only one skill is going be a killer. Having a broader view and being able to think across domains is going to be key.

Google CEO gung ho on Google+

Google Inc's chief executive said the company's fledgling social network, Google+, has scored more than 100 million active users, and he reiterated the internet search giant's commitment to making long-term bets. 

Larry Page, also co-founder who took over the top job from Eric Schmidt in April 2011, said in a 2012 strategy update that the search giant had made progress revamping Google around key business opportunities. 

Page said that Google's smartphone operating system, Android, was being activated on 850,000 mobile devices every day. 

He signaled Google's intentions to make hardware devices when its $12.5 billion acquisition ofMotorola Mobility Holdings closes later this year, even as some observers have speculated that Google was only interested in the company for its extensive patent portfolio. 

"We are excited about the opportunities to build great devices capitalizing on the tremendous success and growth of Android and Motorola's long history of technological innovation," Page wrote. 

Founded by Page and Sergey Brin in 1998, Google has grown into a corporate behemoth, with roughly $38 billion in revenue last year and nearly $45 billion in cash and securities on its balance sheet as of the end of September of 2011. 

While Google has dominated Internet searching for a decade, the company has struggled to find its footing in social networking, with Facebook, Twitter and other start-ups stealing Web traffic and engineering talent. 

Since Page took back the reins in April 2011, Google has moved aggressively to make the company a force in the fast-growing social networking market, with the launch of its Google+social networking service. 

"Our goal is long-term growth in revenue and absolute profit-so we invest aggressively in future innovation while tightly managing our short-term costs," Page wrote. 

Google Tops List Of Most Popular Companies, Survey Says

A survey commissioned by ABC News and Washington Post shows that Google is the most popular company in the U.S. — above Apple, Facebook and Twitter.
Eighty-two percent of Americans expressed a positive opinion of the world’s top search-engine site, with 53% saying they strongly favored the company.
The results were published just as Google CEO Larry Page posted a lengthy state-of-Google-type letter on Thursday laying-out the company’s future plans and listing its accomplishments so far. One section of the letter, under the sub-headline “Love and Trust,” spells out Google’s commitment to being well-liked in the eyes of the public:
“We have always wanted Google to be a company that is deserving of great love,” the letter reads. “But we recognize this is an ambitious goal because most large companies are not well-loved, or even seemingly set up with that in mind. We’re lucky to have a very direct relationship with our users, which creates a strong incentive for us to do the right thing.”
The survey was conducted by Langer Research Associates in New York City. The random sample of 1,007 adults was conducted via landline and cellphone from March 28 to April 1. The margin of error is 3.5 points.
Google, Apple and Facebook did not reply to request for comment as of press time.
It was recently discovered that Page’s approval rating within the company has declined 2% in comparison to his predecessor, Eric Schmidt. While Apple’s CEO Tim Cook ranks higher in popularity compared with the late Steve Jobs.
What do you think about this survey? Do your think that Google should have the top spot? Tell us in the comments

IPL - A look at the silver lining

Many believe the IPL to be a nothing but ‘hit and giggle cricket’—it is cash rich, fast, colorful and entertaining. Yet, not really cricket. Players with a specific skill set rule the roost while the sponsors and franchisees make hay while the sun shines. The audience too seems to revel in its larger than life persona. Reason enough for the purists to look the other way. But is it really that flimsy? The league, now in its fifth edition, deserves a closer look.
As incredible as it sounds, an IPL season is make-or-break for a lot of cricketers. I’m not talking about the million dollar babies of the IPL, but the Robin Bist and Parvinder Awana’s of India’s domestic cricket, who’ve done ever so well in the previous Ranji season. The IPL is their big ticket to stardom.

2 daily servings of soy may alleviate hot flashes in menopause

Washington, Apr 5 (ANI): Taking two servings of soy every day can reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes by up to 26 percent, a new study has revealed.
The findings reviewed 19 previous studies that examined more than 1,200 women.
Although the effectiveness of soy in alleviating hot flashes has been inconclusive, with some studies suggesting soy to be beneficial and others suggesting otherwise, much of the discrepancy is due to small sample sizes and inconsistent methodology, according to the authors.
"When you combine them all, we've found the overall effect is still positive," said Melissa Melby, a medical anthropology professor at the University of Delaware and co-author of the study.
Examining the impact of soy isoflavones, chemicals found in soy that exert a mild estrogen-like effect, Melby and her colleagues found that ingesting at least 54 milligrams of soy isoflavones daily for six weeks to a year reduces menopause hot flash frequency by 20.6 percent and severity by 26 percent, compared to a placebo.
The total reduction in frequency and severity might be even greater due to the placebo effect.
In longer duration studies (where women consumed soy isoflavones for 12 weeks or more), the decrease in hot flash frequency was approximately threefold greater than in shorter-duration trials.
Isoflavone supplements with higher levels (at least 19 milligrams) of genistein, one of the two main types of isoflavones, were more than twice as effective at reducing hot flash frequency than lower amounts.
Melby called the genistein result particularly notable because the compound is the primary isoflavone in soybeans and soy foods, suggesting that, "Eating soy foods, or using supplements derived from whole soybeans, may work better for women."
Each gram of soy protein in soybeans and traditional soyfoods provides approximately 3.5 mg of isoflavones.
Two glasses (16 oz) of soymilk or seven ounces of tofu provide approximately 50 mg of isoflavones.
The interest in soy and menopause stems from observational evidence in Japan, where researchers have found the low frequency of hot flashes in Japanese women might be attributed to the high soy consumption that often begins in utero and continues throughout their lifespan.
"Soy is probably more effective in these women," Melby said.
"But if you're 50 and you've never touched soy, it's not too late. We've found that it still helps," Melby added.

Friday, April 6, 2012

YouTube Adds 3D Option for 1080p Video

Google's YouTube now will convert all short-form videos uploaded in 1080p to 3D, the company said, expanding a beta feature it launched last year.
"You can select 3D viewing in the Quality settings (click on the gear icon) on the YouTube player, then pop on your 3D glasses and see YouTube in another dimension," YouTube said in a blog post.
In the example video (below), users need to click the gear, then the "3D" icon to its left. The video will then appear in either 720p or 360p options.
In September of last year, YouTube added the 3D beta feature, which automatically converted videos uploaded to the site to stereoscopic 3D. That update also eliminated the 15-minute video limit for trusted users. The time limit was apparently reinstated after a rash of pirated movies appeared on the site, but users are once again no longer constrained to 15 minutes.
The piracy issue surfaced again Thursday after a federal court revived Viacom's copyright-infringement suit concerning about 67,000 clips of illegally copied material that appeared on the site before 2007.
Google and YouTube also described a little more about how the 3D conversion process works. Basically, stereoscopic 3D requires the left and right eye to "see" a slightly different, offset image, which the brain then combines to create the illusion of a 3D object. Google processes the original 2D video and creates a "depth map," looking for a combination of video characteristics such as color, spatial layout, and motion that it has "learned" from other, dedicated 3D videos uploaded to the site. The creation of the depth map adds the second image that's needed for the 3D video.
Google has been able to apply its cloud computing infrastructure to apply the 3D conversion process to the breadth of videos on the site., it said.

IIT responsible for Aakash I failure Datawind

NEW DELHI: Six months after ministry of human resource development launched the Aakash tablet, barely a few hundred units have reached students. The manufacturing of the device has been stopped and now the ministry and Datawind, the company responsible for supplying the tablet, are focusing on Aakash 2, an upgraded version of the device.

Datawind concedes Aakash, which is supposed to digitize the way students study in India, has not been a success in its first version. But the company squarely blames IIT-Rajasthan, the nodal agency overseeing the project, for the fiasco. It says the concerns over the tablet's quality and functionality are overblown by the institute in a bid to "favour other firms".
Datawind's CEO, Suneet Singh Tuli, says that after winning the bid to manufacture Aakash, the company supplied 10,000 tablets to IIT-Rajasthan. They were part of an initial order of 1,00,000 tablets that Datawind was supposed to supply to the government at a price of $49.98 per unit. But after a few hundred tablets reached students as part of the pilot project, IIT-Rajasthan started rejecting Aakash tablet, allegedly after reports that the device was failing during pilot testing and did not meet the quality criteria set by the institute.

Top 5 Facebook Privacy Tips

Frequent Facebook users have a love-hate relationship with the world's largest social network. It's hard not to worry about how Facebook is using the information we so freely feed it, yet the platform itself is so fun and enjoyable to use, oftentimes it's easier to overlook the bigger privacy picture for in-the-moment fun. Parents share images of their kids with friends and distant relatives. Artists trade links and images on Facebook, collaborating and curating ideas and interests. Yet the social networking comes with a price, as evidenced by the controversy caused by the Girls Around Me App, which uses public Foursquare and Facebook location data to map women nearby. And of course, it's easier to freak out about apps like this than to seriously consider what dumping your personal information onto Facebook itself means.
Facebook users need to be aware of what they're sharing and with whom, especially the young and vulnerable. To get a better idea of five ways to better protect your Facebook privacy, ReadWriteWeb talked to Sarah Downey, a privacy analyst for Abine, the maker of Do Not Track Plus.
Be aware of what you share on Facebook, but also keep an eye on social-sharing apps that let your friends share your information. If you are worried about the information that you've made available on Facebook, limit with whom you share it.

1. Limit Sharing to Friends Only

This suggestion is diametrically opposed to Zuckerberg's famous 'the age of privacy is over' declaration in 2009 in which he decided that everyone should share everything they posted on Facebook with everyone else. Later he retreated on this statement. The FTC stepped in, especially as the Timeline era approached. Facebook users can set the default to 'friends only,' and that's exactly what Downey suggests.
'If you're sharing with 'friends of friends,' you're exposing your info to an average of 150,000 people,' says Downey. 'When your data is open to the public, it can - and does - end up anywhere: the Girls Around Me app or are two creepy examples.'
To change the settings to friends-only, go to Privacy Settings, and select 'Friends' or 'Custom.' Adjust the settings according to whom you would prefer sees your posts. Note that if you check the 'Friends of those tagged' box, you are allowing Facebook to share the post on your wall with the friends of the person tagged.
FB Privacy Tips.jpg

2. Don't Let Your Friends Share Your Info

Pay close attention to requests from random Facebook social apps like BranchOut. (Plus, do you really want to do 'career networking' on Facebook? Casual networking is one thing, but for purely professional connecting, go to LinkedIn.)
'BranchOut requests your basic info; your email address; your profile info: education history, location and work history; and your friends' profile information, including their education histories, locations and work histories,' says Abine. 'Even without your permission, BranchOut can access your friends' permission.'
This is not only intrusive, yes, but also indicative of something more important: As soon as you become Facebook friends with another user, you are allowing them to access a great deal of information about you. This is even more reason to watch what you share on your Facebook profile and who you become friends with.
To change this setting, go to Privacy Settings > Apps, Games and Websites. Then select 'How people bring your info to apps they use.' Go through and uncheck information about yourself that you don't want your friends to share via social apps and games.

3. Take Care of Your Taggage

That's right, I said taggage, not baggage. It's all kind of the same these days, though. Unlike Google+, which asks users if they'd like facial recognition turned on in photos, Facebook offers 'tag suggestions.' This means that when a photo that looks like you is uploaded to the network, Facebook suggests adding a tag. It says that this helps 'save time,' especially when many photos are uploaded from a single event. It does not tag you automatically, but this sort of thing does count as facial recognition. If you would like to opt-out of this feature, change the 'who sees tag suggestions when photos that look like you are uploaded' option to 'no one.'
If you don't mind keeping it within friends, select the 'friends' option. You can also adjust the Timeline and Tagging options, turning on the review tags and review posts friends tag you in.

‘Anonymous’ hit takes down govt websites in China

BEIJING: China was struggling Thursday to restore several government websites that international hacking group Anonymous says it attacked in an apparent protest against Chinese Internet restrictions. 

On a Twitter account established in late March, Anonymous China listed the websites it says it hacked over the last several days. They include government bureaus in several Chinese cities, including in Chengdu, a provincial capital in southwest China. 

Some of the sites were still blocked Thursday, with error messages shown. 

Anonymous activists have defaced websites around the world. They are engaged in political causes, including opposition to the global clampdown on file-sharing sites and defense of the secret-spilling site WikiLeaks. 

Some websites that Anonymous said it attacked were working Thursday, and government officials denied the sites were ever hacked. China's National Computer Network Emergency Response Technical Team was not available for immediate comment. 

CEO Larry Page and 7 amazing stats about Google

On the occasion of the first anniversary as the chief executive officer, Larry Page shared a letter with Google’s investors. He took over the CEO job at last April aftermaking the announcement in January 2011. You should read the letter for yourself. It is a bit of corporate-speak, but nevertheless it feels like it is from a guy who feels happy with his first 12 months in the job. While reading the letter, some stats caught my eye that are simply staggering, regardless of how one feels about the company.
  • Over 850,000 Android devices are activated daily through a network of 55 manufacturers and more than 300 carriers.
  • Google Chrome browser has over 200 million users.
  • Google launched Gmail in 2004 and now is used by more than 350 million people. Over 5,000 new businesses and educational establishments sign up for Gmail every day.
  • YouTube has over 800 million monthly users who upload an hour of video per second.
  • Google’s mobile advertising grew to a run rate of over $2.5 billion by the third quarter of 2011 — two and a half times more than at the same point in 2010.
  • Google has paid out over $30 billion to support content on the Web since the launch of Adsense over a decade ago.
  • Google Translate is eight years old and according to Page “now allows anyone to translate text in an instant between any two of 64 languages—including Hindi, Arabic and Chinese. That’s actually 4032 different pairs of languages you can translate!”
Of course what would the letter be without the CEO pointing out his achievements. Page wanted to focus the company on social and optimize the operations around fewer products. So it isn’t a surprise that he pointed out that “we have closed or combined over 30 products, including projects like Knol and Sidewiki.”
And as for Google+, the mandate for the company, Page pointed out that there are “over 120 Google+ integrations to date (including Google Search, YouTube and Android), we are on the right track. Well over 100 million users are active on Google+.”

Pepper Soup

Pepper Rasam

Easy to cook, Tasty and Good for Health also


  1.     1 small tomato, chopped into small cubes
  2.     1 1/2 tsp peppercorns (Miriyalu)
  3.     2 1/2 tsp cumin seeds (Jeera or Jilakara)
  4.     1 tsp mustard seeds (Aavalu)
  5.     1 sprig curry leaves
  6.     2 tsp thick tamarind juice
  7.     1/2 tsp sugar or jaggery water
  8.     1 tsp chopped coriander leaves
  9.     Salt to taste
  10.     2 tsp Oil
  11.     6 cups of water.


  1.     Powder the peppercorns and Jeera in Mixie
  2.     Grind to get a very coarse powder.
  3.     Mix together the water, tomato, salt, sugar(jaggery) and tamarind juice.
  4.     Bring it to a boil on a low flame.
  5.     Season with mustard, jeera, garlic and curry leaves
  6.     Add pepper and Jeera powder and boil for 3 minutes
  7.     Garnish with chopped coriander.
  8.     Eat when hot with plain rice.


  1.      You can use the ready made rasam powder also for the same recipe