Monday, September 14, 2009

The benefits and perils of Google Chrome browser (in context of multitasking and productivity)

Without doubt, Chrome has made me more productive - its UI responds nearly-immediately to my actions, making my own speed - and not the software's - the primary barrier/deciding-factor to how fast I can work (which is a good thing). I freely and quickly group and rearrange tabs, and overall, the UI is very responsive.

This was the good part. The bad part is that I've started multitasking much more now. I open many more tabs in Chrome (and Opera), compared to when I'm in other browsers. I can even hypothesize that Chrome/Opera users open more tabs (on average) than Firefox users, who open more tabs than IE users. And all these open tabs give a kind-of restlessness to the mind - they give the feeling of many pending tasks, reducing my mind's concentration.

An example of my typical Chrome window

Guess I'll have to adopt some self-controlling policies to prevent myself from drowning in these tabs.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Moving to Johannesburg (SA), shortly

I'm moving to Johannesburg, South Africa, within a couple of days. So many things need to be done still... Visa, packing, other formalities, learning cooking (!), etc.

Let's see how things pan out.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Well, this is embarrassing...

...but Firefox is having problems restoring a session with no tabs.

This is embarrassing.

(About half of my browsing has already shifted to Chrome/Chromium)

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A brand new blog - on my own domain

Close on the heels of the launch of my email address on my own domain comes the launch of a new blog - also on my own domain name. This new blog - named HyperBlog - will be my official blog from now, and is likely to supersede my Main Blog (my Other Blog should continue just fine).

Click to read Rishabh Singla's Google profile

Monday, July 27, 2009

Microsoft should contribute the content of Encarta encyclopedia to Wikipedia / Wikimedia Foundation

Microsoft has decided to discontinue the Encarta line of products, as well as the associated online websites. I assert that Microsoft should contribute the content of all languages of Encarta products to the Wikimedia Foundation, from where this high-quality content can be appropriately added to the various Wikimedia Foundation projects such as Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Wikiquote, etc. This of course means that Microsoft contribute only those portions of Encarta that it owns, as opposed to the content it has licensed from third-parties.

In my opinion, such a move:
  1. Will gain Microsoft a large quantity of favorable press coverage, leading to an overall improvement in the image of the Microsoft brand among Open Source communities, news media, and general public
  2. Will give Wikipedia a much-needed shot in the arm, and make it a significantly more useful service for students and other sections of the society
  3. Will not have have any meaningfully unfavorable implications for any of Microsoft's various businesses
An alternative is to have the Wikimedia Foundation host and manage an online version of Encarta ("").

Click to see my detailed LinkedIn profile

Email service now active on

Finally, I've setup an email service on my domain name - (though the website itself has no content yet).

The mail service went online at about 9 PM IST, on July 25, 2009. I intend to use my email-address strictly for professional purposes.

Click here to read my detailed Google profile

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Comparison of video types available on YouTube: HQ18, HQ22, HQ35, HQ37, FLV, MP4, HQ, HD, etc.

Update (12-Jul-10): YouTube has recently added support for 4096*3072 ("ultra-high") resolution videos, as reported here.

I frequently download videos from YouTube, using Mozilla Firefox and Video DownloadHelper extension. However, DownloadHelper shows that many YouTube videos have multiple versions available, labeled as HQ18, HQ22, HQ35, HQ37, etc. There does not seem to be any official explanation of these different versions.

So today I set out to
  1. Understand the difference between these video types
  2. Identify the version with the highest quality
I started with this video (Check out E3 Spotlight) (screenshot below), as it was available in all versions that I've seen on YouTube so far.

Click image to view in full size

The findings are below

Schema Details
[Video Type]: [Container]; [File Size]; [Ratio]; [Relative Quality]
  1. Basic / Normal: FLV; 718 KB; 1x; Low
  2. HQ18: MP4; 1.4 MB; 2x; Medium
  3. HQ22: MP4; 4.5 MB; 6.4x; Very high
  4. HQ35: FLV; 2.7 MB; 3.9x; High
  5. HQ37: Container?; Size?; Factor?; Super
What it shows: HQ22 (and now HQ37 - an even higher-quality video) has the highest quality on YT, if file-size is used as an indicator of video-quality. Additionally, for HQxy, a higher value of xy doesn’t necessarily mean an increase in video-quality over a lower xy value.

Verification of the above findings: The above findings have been found to hold true for all 5 of the following videos (except for HQ37 - which is known to have higher-quality than HQ22, but this has not been verified yet)
  1. Windows Gaming at E3
  2. Gaming for Everyone
  3. Introducing Google Squared
  4. Google Health - Product Overview
  5. Nokia Booklet 3G first video
Result of My Memory Test

Saturday, April 25, 2009

An Analysis To Predict The Price Of Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290 Digital Camera In India

I am quite impressed by the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290 camera. However, it's not yet available in India (officially). I want to guess its approximate price, when it launches in India in the near future.

To do this, I used the following approach: I looked up the prices of various Sony digital cameras on Sony Style USA and Sony India websites. I tried to derive a pattern in the US price (in US Dollars) and India price (in Indian Rupees). As of today, 1 US Dollar = INR ~50

Following are the contents of my scratchpad:



$330 16,500
India 22,000 +33%

$300 15,000
India 18,000 +20%

$330 16,500
India 18,000 +9%

$180 9,000
India 13,000 +44%

$200 10,000
India 14,000 +40%

$250 12,500
India 16,625 +33% [BASED ON OTHER "W" MODELS ONLY]

$300 15,000
India 20,000 +33%


Saturday, April 04, 2009

How it's possible for a 22 year old to have lived for longer duration than a 23 year old person

This thought is based on the idea of more effective / productive time utilization, the way we use it in the context of work.


7 hours of optimized sleep per day has the same amount of desirable effect as 8 hours of usual sleep (which can be reasonably assumed to be unoptimized in most cases), without involving any compromise with one's physical or mental health. The basis of this (unproven) hypothesis is real-life observation on myself, among some other observations.

  • Amount of desirable effect: Sleep has some purposes (related to both the physical and the mental health), and these purposes are the desirable effects of the activity of sleeping on our body and mind. These effects can vary in extent depending upon sleeping conditions and its duration
  • Optimized sleep: When sleep takes place in such conditions as to maximize the desirable effects obtained per hour, the sleep is called optimized sleep. Posture, noise, lighting, time, type of bed, and many other factors affect the quality of our sleep
  • Usual sleep: The way most of us sleep each day. The conditions we sleep in are not the best possible, and hence almost all of our sleeps are not optimized. The desirable effects we obtain per hour are lower than the maximum possible amount achieved during an optimized sleep
Sleeping like a baby


If a 22 year old person has been having 7 hours of optimized sleep each day for the last 10 years of his life, then he has been awake for about 3,651 hours more than a similar-aged friend who has been having 8 hours of usual sleep, without making any compromise with his physical and mental health (this follows from my hypothesis).

Assuming that the average number of productive hours (the hours which are utilized each day for work - these hours do not include eating, entertainment, bathing, etc.) per day for any person who takes 8 hours of usual sleep per day is 10, a 23 year old person X has had 40,170 productive hours in the last 11 years of his life (3,650 hours per year; 2 days have been added to account for the minimum number of leap years that must be traversed during 11 consecutive years).

Using the same methodology, a 22 year old person Y - who takes 7 hours of optimized sleep per day and hence has one extra productive hour per day - has had 40,172 productive hours in the last 10 years of his life (4,015 hours per year) - a total of 2 hours more than person X. This difference will increase as person X and Y age.


Assuming that most of the learning / living occurs during the productive hours (the definition of productive hours can be broadened to include entertainment, since a lot of social learning takes place during entertainment activities), the 22 year old person Y has effectively lived slightly more than the 23 year old person X - without making any compromise, and without accumulating any sleep debt.

If this hypothesis is proved to be true, it will make education about effective sleep all the more important for inclusion in the syllabus of school children. Also, optimized sleep will become another productivity-enhancing weapon in the arsenal of organizational CxOs (CEOs, COOs, CTOs, CFOs, CIOs, CMOs, etc.), and other high-ranking individuals.

Finally, it must be remembered that optimized sleep is just one out of many possible methods by which a 22 year old can have practically lived for more duration than a 23 year old. Also, this idea assumes that the situations faced by person X and person Y (while they're in their productive hours) are the same. In real life, it's more likely that these 2 individuals shall face very different situations, resulting in learnings that vary not only in extent, but also in type.

Update: Forgot to mention that person Y also has a full extra calendar year ahead of him, compared to person X, since he's only 22 yet (that's 4015 more productive hours by the time he turns 23!).

My Thoughts About Human Memory

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Default Settings Of Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 Suite Are Harmful For Ads-Supported Web

By default, Kaspersky Internet Security 2009 (KIS 2009) has its ad-blocker module enabled. This is bad for the Web, much of which is supported by advertising (and a lot of that advertising is delivered via banner ads).

I believe that the popularity of KIS is increasing, as Kaspersky's products have been hailed not only for their high malware detection rates, but also for their minimal resource utilization. This increasing popularity of KIS (and KAV - Kaspersky Anti-Virus) will lead to more banner ads getting blocked, leading to a reduction in the revenue of banner ad-supported websites, ultimately leading to either shutting down of at least some of these websites, or a reduction in the amount of fresh content (applications or multimedia or text) that the website owners add to their website (for lack of funds).

More importantly, such a default setting is a slap in the face of an entire business model on which much of the modern Web rests. Is Kaspersky trying to suggest that every banner ad is malicious? I don't think so. Yes, there are many malformed banner ads that are unpleasing, even annoying, but publishers who deploy ad-serving systems of networks that allow such unfriendly banner ads will automatically see reduced user visits to their websites, eliminating the need to have banner ad blockers installed at the user end.

Such a setting may resonate well with Kaspersky's potential customers (cleaner webpages, faster browsing, and increased privacy), but in the long run, it is ultimately bad for the customers.

An interesting thing to note is that disabling the Banner Ad Blocker causes KIS to throw a bright yellow warning - Your computer security is at risk. Oh really? I didn't know that banner ads could put my computer's security at risk. I do know that they can put my privacy at risk, but with secure browsers such as Opera configured to receive cookies only from the site that is visited, even the privacy threat is mitigated.

The default block-list - a lot of banner ads are being blocked!

An Idea For Truly Portable Applications

Google Chrome 2.0.169.x Both Passes And Fails The Acid3 Web Standards Project Test

This is rather absurd - Google Chrome and both pass and fail the Acid3 test. Screenshots below (click them to see them in full size)



My personal take is that such a situation is possible because of a flaw in the test, and not in the browser. It is possible for the test to show a FAIL sign as well as give a 100/100 score simultaneously.

Why Flickr Is Better Than Picasa Web

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Use Alternative And Metasearch Engines To Protect Your Privacy While Searching On The Web

If you are concerned about giving away too much of your private information to one of the top Web-search engines (Google, Yahoo Search, Live Search,, then you can use the following method to protect your privacy without compromising on the quality of search results. It's crucial that any solution to the privacy issue be uncompromising with not only the quality / relevance of the search results, but also with the quality of search experience, although slight compromise with the latter is an acceptable price to pay to get increased privacy.

It must also be remembered that the solution outlined here is only 1 of the several easy-to-use measures that can be used to protect your privacy when conducting Web searches.

For Google users: Use AOL Search. It provides the high-quality search results of Google without directly letting Google associate any of the searches with you. To make it less painful to access AOL Search, set it as your homepage, bookmark it, add it to the search box of your favorite browser and set it as the default search engine, and so on.

For Yahoo Search users:
Since I'm generally logged in to Google, and not Yahoo, I find it OK to search directly on Yahoo Search. If however, you do not wish to search on Yahoo Search, use Forestle. It provides Yahoo's results while keeping you anonymous. Engines such as AltaVista and AllTheWeb do not protect your privacy, as they use a cookie.

Fore Live Search users: No great alternative, although Search and Give is a fine one (if you are not signed in). I use Live Search directly, since I am never logged in to any Microsoft website, and hence all searches I conduct on Live Search are anonymous by default.

For users: For all practical purposes, you are already anonymous. No need to look elsewhere.

As an alternative to the above, you may use one of the better metasearch engines. I prefer Ixquick, although you may also choose from Scour, Dogpile and Clusty (in decreasing order of preference). Don't even look at the the dozens more metasearch engines that are completely trash-worthy.

As a side note, there are other search engines that are based on one of top 4 search engines (such as Click4Carbon, GoodSearch, Lycos, etc.), I do not recommend these because they have poorly-designed or slow user interfaces which mar the search experience unacceptably.

My Idea For An Advertising Campaign

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Geometrical (visual) proof of the famous formula {(a+b)^2} = {(a^2) + (b^2) + (2*a*b)}

Yesterday, at the lunch table, a friend told me that at one of his IIM interviews, he was asked to prove the well-known identity {(a+b)^2} = {(a^2) + (b^2) + (2*a*b)} geometrically. He asked me to try this problem. It took me over 5 minutes to come up with a solution, but gladly, I did come up with one. Here it is:

I can imagine that the same method can be applied to prove the identity [(a+b)^3] = [(a^3) + (b^3) + {3*a*b*(a+b)}], and many other identities as well. It'll require the use of Google SketchUp or AutoCAD to create 3D models for these. Let's see if I have the time some day to create a model.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 + Outlook 2007 Provides Higher Value

If you are an individual and are thinking of buying Microsoft Office Standard 2007 for personal use [currently priced at $400; includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook], you should stop and take a look at this package
  • Office Home and Student 2007 [$150; includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote]
  • Outlook 2007 [$110]
The total comes out to be $260 [$140 less than Office Standard 2007], while adding OneNote.

I believe that for personal use, this package is significantly better than buying Office Standard 2007. However, it must be remembered that the scenarios in which Office Home and Student is permitted to be used are governed by

Are there license restrictions to Office Home and Student 2007?

Yes. Office Home and Student 2007 is licensed only for noncommercial use by households. It cannot be used in commercial (business) situations.

A Wiser Deal For Game Consoles

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Now Tweeting - I Have Just Joined Twitter :)

I had been reading about the sweetly named Twitter for many weeks now. But yesterday when I read that Google has joined Twitter, that really caught my attention. I noticed that even Yahoo and Live Search had joined recently, and they had welcomed Google to the party. Curious enough, I signed up (the sign-up is delightful... it can be finished in under 45 seconds), optimized my settings, chose my avatar, customized my theme a little, and was off to start tweeting...

My first four tweets... I've starred all of them... LOL

My first impressions?
  1. I'm liking it so far
  2. I've used it as a scratchpad so far... to scribble down random thoughts coming to my mind
  3. The feature I like the most is Favorites. I can star any tweet that I want to re-read (perhaps because it has an idea, or there's a pending task related to it, etc.)
  4. I'm unsure as to whether I'll be using Twitter as a blog or as a scratchpad (or a to-do list)... or maybe a mix of all three
  5. I'm curious as to why the limit on the number of characters in a tweet is 140... my initial thought is that perhaps Twitter intends to integrate tweeting with the insanely popular SMS service on cell phones, which, on some devices has a limit of 140 characters per message. To be compatible with every cell phone on the planet, Twitter has used a lowest common denominator approach. Just a thought, but Twitter could be looking at itself as the SMS provider for the Internet
  6. I'm happy that Twitter is not blocked at my company... at least not yet
Rishabh Singla's Tweets On Twitter

Thursday, February 26, 2009

An Edgy Idea For Advertising Campaign For A Car

Sometimes I like to create new ideas for advertising campaigns of products (electronic gadgets, automobiles, computer software, etc.), apart from doing other things. And some weeks back, while I was reading about the Audi R8, an idea for advertising campaign for a supercar came to my mind.

A rough summary of the idea: There is a huge sign / text all over the R8. You can't see it, nor can any other human. However, every other non-R8 automobile on the planet sure will. It reads "SHUT UP".

I think it's a nice concept for advertising a supercar. It intends to capture the vast superiority the R8 has over every other car on the planet. And with just 2 words, it humbles all of them. If this concept gets someone who can create elegant print and video ads, I think it should be a success.

The Audi Q7. A real manly beast for real men

I first wrote this idea some weeks back here (as a caption below a photo on my wishlist album).

About Me - My Detailed Google Profile

Monday, February 23, 2009

Finding the right price point to maximize profits

For many months now - perhaps over 2 years - I've been telling some of my friends a simple formula (over lunch table, or during other casual discussions) that companies perhaps-already-use / should-use to correctly price their products / services in the market.

"Correctly" refers to that optimal price point which maximizes the total profit.

The simple formula states that if
  • X is the cost price per unit,
  • Y is the selling price per unit,
  • Z is the number of units that sell at Y price point, and
  • P is the profit per unit (i.e., Y minus X)
Then a company should strive to find that value of Y, where the product PZ is maximum.

It is no rocket science that P and Z are generally inversely related to each other - as P increases, Z goes down, and vice versa. It is also trivial to understand that the relation between P and Z is not of the nature "PZ = constant" (that is, a particular increment in P will generally not cause so much decrement in Z so as to keep the product PZ unchanged). And finding the correct value of Y - and hence P - is not an easy task. It is a task that not only requires sound market research, it also requires sound knowledge of the consumers and the market, as well as sound judgment.

And here's a recent news story that has some interesting figures which demonstrate exactly this - the importance of the product PZ, and the effect of varying Y on PZ. An excerpt from the news story is:

...Valve's Gabe Newell revealed that a recent sale on the Steam version of Left 4 Dead led to an astounding sales increase of 3000 percent...

Update (14-Feb-10): It appears that the premise behind Laffer curve is analogous, in a way, to the thought I've outlined in this post

An Idea For Variable Power Car Engine

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Google Has NOT Banned The Term 'Netbook' From Its Ad-Network

Despite a flurry of recent reports (here, here and here) suggesting that Google has banned the term netbook from its ad-network, I could still spot at least one ad featuring the word netbook on Google's ad-network, as of today

Click on the image to view it in its original size

Saturday, February 21, 2009

An Obsession For Perfection - A Common Mistake In Corporate Email Disclaimers

I believe that I'm obsessed with perfection. I like finding imperfections and shortcomings, and I feel good when these flaws and shortcomings are put to rest. I have a strong belief that if processes are in place to discover and correct flaws - small or big - then processes and systems will improve quickly. Analogies can be drawn between finding and correcting flaws, and debugging and testing.

Yesterday, when I read the following email disclaimer of a leading consulting company, I felt uncomfortable on finding a flaw.

This message may contain confidential and/or privileged information. If you are not the addressee or authorized to receive this for the addressee, you must not use, copy, disclose or take any action based on this message or any information herein. If you have received this message in error, please advise the sender immediately by reply e-mail and delete this message. Thank you for your cooperation.

The disclaimer requests the unintended recipient to advise the sender by reply email, and requests deletion of only the original message. It should also have been requested to delete the reply email, since almost all reply emails include a copy of the original email (without attachments).

Unadulterated nitpicking for sure. But that's what obsession is about.

An Idea For Truly Portable Applications

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Portable apps that are portable across operating systems (Linux, Mac, Solaris, Windows)

An excerpt from a Wikipedia article on portable applications:

"There is a very restricted category of software that can support a sort of double portability, being both stand alone and cross-platform compatible, able to run on different hardware with little or no modifications, perhaps with minor restrictions. One such software is SymbOS, whose main modules can in their present form be executed on both Amstrad CPC and MSX machines without modification. Only some of its bundled applications are hardware-dependent. To a much lesser extent, Macintosh fat binary applications could be considered as cross-platform, but not always truly portable."

While reading this paragraph, it occurred to me that it is easily possible to create a portable version of Mozilla Firefox which is portable across popular operating systems (Linux, Mac, Solaris, Windows).

A typical install of Firefox consists of two parts. On Windows XP, these are:
  1. Core program (platform dependent): Typically, it's inside C:/Program Files/Mozilla Firefox
  2. User data (platform independent): Typically, it's inside C:/Documents and Settings/Username/Application Data/Mozilla/Firefox
I believe, it is possible (and relatively simple) to mix 4 builds of the core program (Linux, Mac, Solaris, Windows) in a single folder, so that executables and other program files for each operating system are kept in separate sub-folders, while the user data is common. Separate launchers will be required for each OS. This arrangement shall make bookmarks, cache, history, passwords, etc., available in all of the 4 builds. Such a release of Firefox will be quite useful to many users, as it will allow a person to carry a truly portable application, one that gives the ability to seamlessly hop from Ubuntu to Leopard to Solaris to Windows XP.

Potential benefits of such a release:
  1. No need to use Foxmarks, at least for some users. Hop across OSes without having to sync anything.
  2. Carry the application platform as well as applications, across operating systems. To me, this one benefit has disruptive potential. Imagine that a user has a HyperPortable version of Firefox (the one envisioned in this post), and the user installs some extensions on it (a calculator, some basic games, a basic word processor, etc.). The HyperPortable version of Firefox allows the user to carry not only Firefox (and user data) across OSes, it also allows carrying these applications that run on top of Firefox. As Web browsers start being used more and more as application platforms, the importance as well as usefulness of this portability will only increase.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Goodbye To AltaVista Audio Search

First I have to admit something - I have, in the past, downloaded a few songs (illegally), using AltaVista Audio Search. And for the same reason, I went to AltaVista Audio Search page once again a few days back, only to find that it doesn't exist anymore. It was not only surprising, it was disappointing as well.

I have always liked AltaVista. I've resorted to it many times, to gain access to the very-relevant yet somewhat-different-from-Google results of Yahoo Search, via a lean, clean and fast user interface (cleaner and lighter than Yahoo Search). And I fell in love with AltaVista ever since I started reading The Search (where delicious accounts of the birth of AltaVista, and its pioneering achievements in the initial days of the Internet can be read). Watching Yahoo gradually cripple the legendary search giant makes me a little sad.

Here's a screenshot from the cache of Live Search, where AltaVista Audio Search is still alive

About Me - My Photo Albums On Picasa

Saturday, January 31, 2009

PREDICTION: Google Chrome Web Browser Will Be A Hit Among Netbook And Subnotebook Users

Because of the following (incomplete) list of reasons, I believe that Google's new Web browser, named Chrome, will be a hit among Netbook, and Subnotebook (alias minilaptop & ultraportable) users: -
  1. Minimalist user interface: In contrast to other contemporary Web browsers (especially Firefox 3.0, and to a lesser extent, Internet Explorer 8, Safari 3.x and Opera 9.x), Chrome 1.x has a lean / minimalist user interface that does away with the title bar, the file-edit bar, and the status bar. The result is a UI that consumes non-insignificantly less display space, allowing a larger proportion of the display area to be devoted to the webpage / Web-application being used by the user. Netbooks typically have display size <=10 inches (measured diagonally), and this characteristic of Chrome should result in a significantly improved Web experience, relative to that provided by competing browsers such as Firefox 3.
  2. Reduces effort required by users: Chrome includes features that reduce the amount of effort required on the part of users, to get to various webpages or Web-applications. The Omnibox (a multipurpose box on the top of Chrome's UI) acts as a search box too, so a user doesn't have to make any effort to select a separate search box, or to go to a search engine such as Google. Omnibox displays suggestions for typed queries, which can potentially reduce the amount of additional typing required. Finally, as a user types a URL or a query, Omnibox displays results from the user's search and URL history, again reducing the effort required on the part of the user. The default new tab page, which displays a list of recent bookmarks, recently closed tabs, and thumbnails of 9 most visited websites, is another feature that has the potential to reduce the amount of typing required. Netbooks typically have keyboards and touchpads that are smaller than those found on standard-sized laptops, and this reduced need to type and click should result in an improved Web experience for users.
  3. Faster rendering of webpages and Web-applications: One of the most hailed features of Chrome is its V8 JavaScript engine. This engine is able to execute JavaScript code significantly faster than competing browsers such as Internet Explorer 8, Opera 9.x, and Firefox 3.0. Chrome uses WebKit as its layout engine, which allows it to render non-JavaScript code fast as well (Safari also uses WebKit). This increase in speed of rendering webpages and running Web-applications results in an improved user experience for users, especially on those webpages and Web-applications that make heavy use of JavaScript and other code. Netbooks typically have CPUs that are significantly slower than those in standard laptops, and the increased rendering and JS execution speed that Chrome brings (on relatively slower processors - on which competing browsers are expected to give a relatively sluggish experience) should result in a significantly better Web experience in Chrome, compared to competing browsers.
  4. Improved system memory management: Google Chrome uses a multi-process model, and reclaims all the system memory that was being used by a tab, when that tab is closed. This model - although it has the disadvantage of an increased memory overhead for each tab - is overall better than the single-process model used in competing browsers such as Firefox 3.x and Opera 9.x, because as tabs are closed in Chrome, all the memory in use is reclaimed. This is not true for single-process browsers such as Firefox 3.0 or Safari 3.x. Unless a user opens too many tabs, this model should be able to consume less memory on an average. Netbooks typically have significantly less RAM compared to standard laptops, and the improved memory management / reclamation features of Chrome should result in a visibly improved experience for users, especially relative to competing browsers such as Safari 3.x and Firefox 3.x, which do not reclaim all of the memory used in past.
It can be observed that almost all of Chrome's strengths result from its ability to use the hardware resources more efficiently. On Netbooks, whose very essence is small (small form factor, small display, small keyboard, lesser memory, slower CPU, slower GPU, etc.), Chrome should be able to provide an experience that no other contemporary browser can. These reasons also apply to Subnotebooks, albeit to a lesser extent.

A key barrier to the success of Chrome on Netbooks and Subnotebooks is awareness about it among the general public. As of now, Chrome is hardly known outside the set of tech-savvy computer users. As users receive Netbook machines loaded with a flavor of Windows OS, whether they choose to download, install and use Chrome, or resort to the bundled-by-default IE, depends on Google's ability to make Chrome as well known as its flagship search engine.

To partially mitigate the above barrier, it makes sense for Google to strike deals with Netbook vendors such as ASUS, Acer, etc., to include Chrome as the default Web browser. Netbook users who are not familiar with Chrome may initially find it alien; however they should be able to find their Web experience noticeably degraded if they try switching to other browsers (because of aforementioned reasons). This should bring these users back to Google Chrome. The slowly-gained familiarity with Chrome may convert some or many of them to Chrome on their regular computing machines as well.

Update 4-2-09: For the reasons mentioned previously for Netbooks and Subnotebooks, Chrome should provide an improved Web experience on other computing devices, such as MIDs and UMPCs.

About Me - My Detailed Profile

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Commercialization Of Open Source Poses A Serious Threat To Vendors Of Proprietary Software

I've been observing the developments taking place in the packaged software landscape for some years now, and an interesting practice that I (and probably others) have noticed is the commercialization of open source software, by rivals of well-established proprietary software vendors.

A partial list of examples of this practice (sorted alphabetically): -
  1. Adobe Flex Builder - Eclipse
  2. Adobe Integrated Runtime - WebKit
  3. Apple Mac OS X - BSD
  4. Apple Safari - KHTML / WebKit
  5. Borland JBuilder - Eclipse
  6. Google Andriod - Linux / WebKit
  7. Google Chrome - WebKit
  8. Google Picasa (for Linux) - Gecko
  9. IBM Lotus Symphony - Eclipse /
  10. Red Hat Linux - Linux
  11. Zend Studio - Eclipse
Another form of commercialization of open source software is when vendors write add-ons / extensions / plug-ins for open source software, that add useful features to a particular open source software, and are paid. For example, a vendor creates a $9.99 plug-in for GIMP, that adds the Liquify feature to GIMP, or a vendor that creates a $19.99 plug-in for, that allows it to import and edit PDF files.

What are the implications of these practices?
  1. Catapult effect: Vendors such as Google, which otherwise would've taken months or maybe years to build (from scratch) feature-rich yet stable versions of their software products (in case of Google, these are Andriod, Chrome, Picasa for Linux, etc.), can now come out with refined and souped-up versions of open source software - in mere weeks. Time saving apart, potentially millions of dollars in development and testing is also saved. I would go as far as to say that open source software is a blessing for vendors such as Google - so while most of the evolutionary and maintenance work is done by third-parties, Google (and others) get to eat the fruit. The "lead", which vendors such as Adobe and Microsoft used to have over other vendors, matters less now in those areas where rival vendors have commercialized open source software. Imagine a vendor coming up with a slick photo-editing software, based on GIMP, which removes all the annoyances of GIMP.
  2. Customer concerns about support & services: Why are many enterprises and SMBs wary of adopting open source software? One of the major reasons is support & services. Commercialization of open source software mitigates this concern. Take Red Hat Linux, or CollabNet Subversion - these come with support & service options, just like those from vendors such as HP / Microsoft. And this largely eliminates a key barrier to adoption of open source software.
  3. The Long Tail: Yet another effect of commercialization of open source software is the development of software packages targeted at niche markets. These specialized versions of open source software (or standard versions used with a combination of paid plug-ins) appeal to users with specialized needs. Anyone familiar with The Long Tail should be able to grasp the meaning of what I'm trying to say. So using the same KHTML / WebKit code, different vendors have come up with software development tools that are "specialized" - Chrome, Epiphany, iCab, Midori, OmniWeb, Safari, etc.
In summary, commercialization of open source software poses a real, a serious threat to those vendors, which are hell bent on developing and selling proprietary software built from scratch. They call it reinventing the wheel.

P.S. I wrote this post in SRWare Iron browser (a fork of the open source Chromium browser, on which Google Chrome too is based)

Friday, January 02, 2009

Analysis Of Skill-Increment Required To Win A Losing Quake III Arena Match

I've recently started playing Quake III Arena, and I'm already liking it a lot. I was playing a deathmatch in which there were only 2 players - me and a bot. The bot had scored 15 frags while I had scored 10 in the same time. The limit of frags was 20.

Let's mathematically analyze the increment required in my fragging/killing/playing skill (in percentage terms), to be able to win this match, to find out if I have any chance of winning this match.

I played 66.67% as good as the bot (since I scored 10 frags while he scored 15 - in same time). If I continue to play same way, I will have got 3.33 frags in the time he gets 5 - and he shall win the match. To be able to win, I need to score 10 frags in the time he scores 5 (his frag score should tend to 5, but shouldn't actually touch 5 - else he would win). This means I need to play twice as good as he has played so far, to be able to win this match. Sad! Also, compared to my own past performance, I need to play an astounding 200% better [{(10/3.33)*100}-100] to win the match.

This explains why - having reached this point - the chances of me winning this match are narrow.

However, this analysis would not have been true had the bot scored 3 frags and I had scored 2 (although even in that case I would've played 66.67% as good as him). This is because the confidence with which it can be said that I played 66.67% as good as the bot is very low for small number of frags such as 2 or 3, whereas in the case number of frags is 10 or 15, the confidence increases.

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Thursday, January 01, 2009

Google's Evil Quest As The Default Search Engine In Microsoft Internet Explorer 7

Today I uninstalled Google Toolbar 5 from my IE 7 (it made the already cluttered interface of IE 7 look more cluttered). After that, I performed a reset on of IE 7, using this inbuilt feature

I hoped that doing this - after uninstalling Google Toolbar - would undo every customization that Google Toolbar had done to IE 7. It turned out that even after uninstalling Google Toolbar and resetting IE 7, two leftover things persisted.

First annoyance - and this is a disturbing one - is that even after resetting IE 7, Google continues to be the default search engine, and Google-as-the-default-search-engine cannot be changed (also, all other search engines I had manually added got removed - except Google)

Secondly, Google Toolbar Notifier - this program remains in Program Files (although I did not find a running instance of the executable in Task Manager)

At Google Operating System, I had read this and this post, and after my today's observation, it is easy to conclude that Google has not corrected all the "bugs" in its toolbar (most likely on purpose). Google may be taking every clever step to maintain an image of a good boy, but its actions speak loudly that the company does engage into evil practices.

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