Category Archives: internet

Browser wars brewing

Browsers have graduated from a simple tool into a platform. For example, Mozilla Firefox has a build in database (starting with v3), support for plugins/add-ons. With appropriate add-on installed, Mozilla becomes a web browser, chat/IM client, VoIP client, RSS Reader, email client etc etc.

At present, various browser components (add-ons, plugins) and web services exists are disconnected entities. If these can be integrated, browser can be the window to the Wide Web World! Flock is trying do it, but still the components are held very loosely. Interaction between various browser components has to be seem less and the browser (through web services) should be able to react to user needs more intelligently.

The video posted below is a glimpse of what next browser might look like.
Source: http://gigaom.com/2008/05/29/the-new-new-browser-wars/

Aurora (Part 1) from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.

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Online movie streaming

SurfTheChannel (STC) has links to some Bollywood movies as well. STC

Jab We Met : http://www.surfthechannel.com/info/Movies/56315/Jab+We+Met.html?aid=52402

They have a huge collection of TV Series, Anime and hollywood movies. Most of the video is streamed from Chinese websites (tudou.com). I found that videos streamed from veoh aer much better than tudou.

STC uses Agriya FLV player to stream and play movies. One of the things that sucks about this player is, it doesn’t let you seek the video forward, which is very annoying if I want to watch the movie in multiple sessions. Another much needed addition would be ability to automatically play all the parts of the video (typically a movie spans multiple parts, possibly from different sources).

Be warned that all the videos/movies listed on STC are most likely violating copyrights.

If they can come up legitimitate way of online streaming infrastructure to deliver iTunes style low cost/high quality movies (PPV), there may be a decent market. Netflix is already delivering movie titles online for a small fee.

European players are toying with the idea of using P2P technologies (“p2pnext”) for streaming videos. This would enable delivering high quality videos with optimal bandwidth usage.

Axe your long distance call rates with jax

Jaxtr, the company that links your phone to the Web, now offers local phone numbers in India. Jaxtr is the first and only company to offer its members the ability to bypass expensive international toll charges by calling a local Indian number to reach friends and family abroad-cheaply and easily-from any ordinary mobile or landline phone. (Press Release)

With the local numbers, India jaxtr members can call for as little as 0.43 Indian rupees (43 paisa or 0.01 USD) per minute.

For Indians in US, the reversal of calling patterns can result in tremendous savings.

eg.

I use StanaCard or Reliance Calling Card to call home. Both of these cost almost 6 cents per minute. (Apart from this, I also use my operator’s tariff minutes).

If I consume about 320-360 mins/month calling India. 70% of thse minutes are calls to my immediate family. Rest of the minutes are divided between friends and relatives.

I’m trying to analyse the cost savings if I purchase jaxtr India number(s) where my family can call me. Calling US from India is much cheaper (on Jaxtr) that calling India from US, this should result in considerable savings.

The following table should explain the scenario in detail.

  Minutes Jaxtr Others Jaxtr Others
Phone#1 120 1.2 7.2
Phone#2 90 0.9 5.4
Phone#3 30 1.8 1.8
Others# 60 3.6 3.6
    2.1 5.4   18
Total 300 $7.5   $18  

Wow! this cuts down my long distance charges by more than half! The only downside being, for each of my phone in India (from where calls are made), I need jax minutes since sharing of minutes across multiple phone numbers may not be allowed by Jaxtr.

IIT/IISc – National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning

On the lines of MIT’s OpenCourseWare, top Indian institutes (IIT, IISc) have launched National Programme on Technology Enhanced Learning (NPTEL).

The main objective of NPTEL program is to enhance the quality of engineering education in the country by developing curriculum based video and web courses.(Videos on YouTube)

Eklavya is similar effort by IITs and HRD Ministry.

Both are commendable effort and will benefit many people who are unable to make it to these highly competitive institutes. Opening up courseware has many other benefits too.

Open cousewares allow aspiring studens to study the subjects online before they can decide whether they actually like the courses, helping them make educated choices about their specialization and cirriculum.

How to valuate an internet company?

Does a large user base mean a large revenue stream? Not necessarily for an internet business.
As an investor, I care more about the revenues than user base.

Facebook, the popular but financially unproven social network, which is reportedly being valued by investors at up to $15 billion.
That is nearly half the value of Yahoo, where as Y!  revenue is 32 times that of Facebook (estimated) .

Google, which recently surged past $600 a share, is now worth more than I.B.M., a company with eight times the revenue.

How are internet companies evaluated?

My Windows Safari

Yesterday Apple pushed Safari thro’ its Software Updater. Even though I hate being forced with such updates, Safari is quite a welcome software. I have been a Firefox user (on both Linux and Windoze) for almost four years now. I do not consider IE to be particularly safe especially when it comes to online banking and shopping. But Firefox drags my laptop  especially after extended use. Internet is full of complaints about FF 2.x memory hogging habits (some blame it on plugins/add-ons too).Oh ya! I almost forgot what I was about to say. Coming  back to my Safari, its an amazing software, slick, fast and functional. Even though Safari doesn’t use native ClearType font rendering,  I liked those fuzzy fonts on Windows XP. I like the way search strings are highlighted. It would be nice to have ‘/’ also work as inline search (just like Vi(m) and FF) :)I tested FF and Safari loading some video sites and almost always Firefox was foxed !Apart from better memory utilization and performance, Safari also has very intuitive nifty features (Apple trademark, isn’t it?) for history, private browsing.This version 3.1 has much better standards compliance as well. Even though Yahoo Mail (new) complained that this browser is not officially supported, it worked just as fine.But I will have to wait to get my delicious and stumble plugins on Safari.

Instant Messengers – War of Worlds

Yahoo Messenger 9 Beta has a Vista’ish interface,flickr integration. Video and images can be viewed right inside the messenger window. Y! 9 Beta allows message/call forwarding, making it a little better SIP client. A desirable feature would have been to allow a user to sign-in into the IM account from multiple places/devices eg. Mobile Phone, Office Computer. Google lets users sign-in into IM service from multiple locations.

Check out video http://beta.messenger.yahoo.com/video.php

GoogleTalk is well integrated with Gmail, Orkut and it also has a voice chat facility.

MSN Messenger (now Live Messenger) is well integrated into MS Windows and in a typical MS way introduces in all the programs. For eg. you can’t terminate MSN Messenger when any of the MS Office applications are running.

Pidgin has a lot of improvements over Gaim including better support for IM contacts on yahoo. I prefer multi-protocol clients since they let me connect to multiple IM accounts simultaneously. However a significant missing feature is integration of voice chat features.

I hope all IM networks will be able to connect to each other, instead of being islands and yahoo IM users would be able to talk to Google or Skype or any other IM service via test/voice/video.