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Blogs gain favor worldwide December 30, 2006

Posted by sk in Computers & Internet, Just Posts, Technology and Software.

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for a while but forgot all about it. A comScore survey found that blogs are becoming more and more popular across the world. Eight countries in North America and Europe were examined and it was found that 58.2% of the online population in Canada had visited blogs during the given month. The following are the conclusions of the study:

  • Among the eight countries examined in the study, Canada saw the highest penetration of visitors to blogs, with 58 percent of all internet users visiting the category in October 2006. Half (51 percent) of all internet users in Spain also visited blogs.
  • Of the selected countries, only Germany (26 percent) and Italy (31 percent) had a lower penetration of internet visitors to the blogs category than the United States (36 percent).
  • Windows Live Spaces is the favorite blog site among the majority of countries studied, with 37 percent of all Canadians visiting the site in October 2006. Blogger.com had the highest penetration in the United States (12.4 percent) and Germany (9.7 percent), while the same was true for Skyblog in France (27.4 percent).

I’m sure Ruhi and Parmanu will be happy that Blogger.com had the highest penetration in the US. No?

In related news, analysts at Gartner believe that the blogging phenomenon will peak in 2007:

The analysts said that during the middle of next year the number of blogs will level out at about 100 million.

The firm has said that 200 million people have already stopped writing their blogs.

Last month blog tracking firm Technorati reported that 100,000 new blogs were being created every day, and 1.3 million blog posts were written.

Interestingly, Gartner also predicted that Vista would be the last major Windows release. They also suggested some time back that Apple should quit the hardware business.

Evil Google makes some good products December 29, 2006

Posted by sk in Computers & Internet, Google, Technology and Software.

When several people tell you something is good, it must be good, right? Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about how good Google Reader is. So I finally decided to try it out myself yesterday. And my verdict? It rocks. It truly does. I spent a couple of hours transferring my feeds from live.com and arranging them properly. I liked Live.com but it’s good for a few rss feeds. It took me a while to figure out, though, that the key ‘j’ is for next feed and ‘k’ is for the previou

s feed. I would have preferred ‘pg up’ and ‘pg dn’ but it’s a minor annoyance. Another minor annoyance I have is that sometimes my feeds are not marked as read even after I’ve read them. Overall, I think it’s a very easy to use rss aggregator with a clean interface. So, now I’m officially using Windows Live Writer for writing posts and Google Reader for reading them.

Anyway, one of the first feeds that I added was that of Mike Torres, who works in the Live Spaces team. He wrote a post about how Google may be compromising its ethics. The gist of his argument is this: when you search the keyword “blog” on Google, Google Blogger doesn’t figure among the top results (and not even in the first 5 pages). However, right below the sponsored links, there’s an orange blogger icon with the text, “Tip: Want to share your life online with your blog? Try Blogger.” Mike has this to say about it:

For a company that prides itself in its integrity (or at least used to) this is a pretty messed up thing to do. I can’t even find Blogger in the organic search results; I stopped looking on page 5. Which means that instead of earning its spot on page 1 (or any other page for that matter) they decided to promote their own service in a way that no one else can do at the top of the organic search results. This makes it look like Blogger is actually more popular than TypePad, Windows Live Spaces, Yahoo 360, and WordPress.com when in reality, according to Google’s own algorithms, it isn’t.

Ultimately, the folks who end up suffering the most are the Six Apart guys who are paying Google to run ads against the word “blog”. Now, if you were in charge of Six Apart’s advertising strategy, would you continue to pay for this ad when your competition has an unfair advantage? Which one would you click on? The one that looks like an ad or the one that looks like a friendly tip from your friends at Google HQ?

Come on guys. You can’t have it both ways – you’re either biased or you’re unbiased. But don’t say you’re unbiased and then sneak little orange B icons above your competition. Especially after saying you don’t ‘smooth the way’ for your own ads.

I initially didn’t pay much attention to it. After all, Mike is ultimately a Microsoftie. 🙂 but Mike provides a link to Blake Ross’s blog (a Firefox developer). Blake has this to say:

Google lost me today.
Google is now displaying “tips” that point searchers to Google Calendar, Blogger and Picasa for any search phrase that includes “calendar” (e.g. Yahoo calendar), “blog” and “photo sharing,” respectively. This is clearly bad for competitors, and it’s also a bad sign for Google. But I generally support anything that benefits users, including monopolistic packaging. I believe, for instance, that shipping Internet Explorer with Windows was a good move.
Google is predicated on the idea that the democratic structure of the Web will push the cream to the top. Search for “photo sharing” and you should already get the highest quality services. According to Google, Picasa is not one of them. These “tips,” then, can only be a tacit admission of failure: either the company does not believe in its own search technology, or it does not believe its products are good enough to rise to the top organically. I’d guess the latter.

Paul Thurrott linked to this article on Blake Ross’s blog and added his own comments at the end:

This is just the tip of the iceberg. From Google’s sad IE 7 toolbar that actually prevents users from changing the browser’s search preferences to the EULA in Google’s phishing filter that admits it makes no attempt at all to perserve your privacy, Google is pure evil. That makes their corporate motto both ironic and hypocritical, but mostly it makes us all chumps for using their services. And yes, I use GMail. I’m an idiot.


My take on this: I think Google should simply abandon its “Don’t Be Evil” motto. I don’t know if it’s possible for any company to survive in corporate America without being evil to a certain extent. Yes, Google is evil, just like Microsoft or Yahoo!, but they make some great products, so, big deal.

Space, Religion and Journalism December 27, 2006

Posted by PagMax in ISRO, religion, science, space, Vatican.

I am finally writing after a LONG time out of my really lazy schedule. Probably my last one for this year and this year ends in 4 days.


Last week Dr. Kasturirangan (former Chairman of ISRO) was appointed as academician in pontifical academy of sciences.

Just for the starters, this academy is part of Vatican (though claims to function independently) and aims at devlopement of scientific research.  Pretty noble idea, however,  here are two issues (not related to each other and not directly related to this news) which popped into my mind


Story of 2006 – updated December 22, 2006

Posted by sk in Blogroll, Just Posts, Miscellaneous.

So, 2007 is a few days away. First of all, anybody have any resolution for 2007? Getting together with an old flame? Eating fire? Finally deciding to pay for mp3 songs? Starring in a porn movie? Becoming the next Baba Sehgal? Losing your virginity? Going on a blind date? This is not a list of my resolutions, by the way, it’s just something to help you come up with yours.

Now, coming to the topic of this post, what, in your opinion, was the most defining moment of 2006 or was there none? Here’s my list:

1. Italy wins the WC

2. Federer has an amazing year.

3. Indian hockey plunges to new depths.

4. Warne retires.

5. Google and Apple continue to grow.

6. More and more people join social networking sites and/or start blogs.

7. Riya Sen and Ashmit Patel make waves.

I can’t remember anything else so I’ll update this list when I can. I also call upon the other Sparks! members to add stories to this list (with your display name in brackets) or in the comments section.

Update by Parmanu

I wanted to do a very similar post, but looks like somehow the idea was leaked. Anyway, I will briefly go over my resolution and my top favorite stories.


1. Tell Himesh Reshamiyya on his face to stop singing not to mention stop acting

2. Be as fluent in German as Adolf Hitler (Right now I am at par with his dog)

3. Be on one of the 10 planned NASA space-shuttle mission for next

4. Have two girls kiss me on either of my cheeks at the same time

5. Come up with equally good 2008 resolutions

So as you can see I have very reasonable and near-in-sight goals. Thats how I am. Never a big dreamer.

Now my favorite stories

1. Pramod Mahajan shot dead

2. I turned 27. (This was the age when Yuri Gagrain rose to fame by being first man in space. Newton was 4 years younger when he formulated his graviation laws. So was Bhagat singh when he was hanged. Pascal would retire from his all scientific contrubutions in 2 years and Ramanujam would die in 5). Just a list of few people on the top of my head who makes me feel I have achieved SO MUCH.

3. India declares manned mission to space

4. Sanjay Dutt, who enlightened us to Gandhism, (I refuse to use ‘Gandhigiri’) convicted for possesion of arms.

5. Iran hosts a Holocaust Conference (Primarily to promote holocaust denial theory)

Updated by planetsk

Before this year ends, I want India to win their first ever Test series in SA. Hopefully, Indians don’t disappoint me as they did through out the year.

Here are a few things that I think I spent sometime watching, reading, following and thinking about them this year.

Sports come first:

– Italy winning FIFA-WC..I was supporting Germany..disappointed a bit.

– Agassi’s farewell, Federer redefining tennis, Sania becoming more of a celebrity than a player.

– Ganguly dada’s return to Indian team, Warne’s retirement (one of my fav.bowlers of all-time), SA’s record run chasing win over Aus and 20-20 version of cricket.

– Followed baseball for the very first time.

Science andTechnology:

– ISRO’s space mission, successful Discovery’s landing and Pluto’s lost status ( how does this affect astrology?)

– Global warming and Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth ( I see this effect in MN…..just kidding..but there is no snow yet in MN which is weird)

-Thanks to MS for finally getting something to think about other than iPod

-IBM et al creating “phase change” material for memory chips

-Google aiming high in the market.

-Infosys getting added to NASDAQ-100

-Intel losing market share to AMD


SPARKS ENGR’S Blog – A great platform to express one’s opinions.

– Laloo getting attention all over the world.

– BORAT and new Bond

– No big hits for SRK

-Ash and Abhishek, Riya and Ashmit

– Indian economy rising purely due to IT and cheap labor.

– Hezabollah’s rocket launches and Israel’s fightback

If I think of any more, I’ll update.

No resolutions at all for 2007….thats a resolution by itself.

Music, Yahoo, Microsoft, and more December 19, 2006

Posted by sk in Bollywood, Hindi Movies, Microsoft, Music.

We’re back. After a brief hiatus, here’s another random post. I’m going to start off with the current playlist on WMP 11 on my comp:

  1. All songs of Guru (except Baazi Laga)
  2. Kabul Fiza (from the movie Kabul Express)
  3. Carry on Wayward Son by Kansas*
  4. Dust in the Wind by Kansas
  5. Point of Know Return by Kansas
  6. My December by Linkin Park
  7. Feel Like Making Love by Bad Company
  8. Songs from Sillunu Oru Kadhal (Tamil movie) – if anyone says New York Nagaram was copied, I’m going to break their bones.
  9. Songs from Tehzeeb (A. R. Rahman)
  10. Saathi Na Koi from Bambai Ka Babu (An old Rafi song)
  11. A couple of songs from Zeher
  12. White Album by the Beatles.

Does anyone care what I’m listening to? I don’t know. Just wanted to let you know. 🙂 Anyway, thanks to Guru, I’ve started listening to a few Bollywood tracks again. What are you listening to, dear readers (if there are any left)?

*I actually heard this song on the radio while driving to Tucson and tried to remember a few words so that I could search for it on the net. Unfortunately, I couldn’t. Thankfully, the song played again a week later and I remembered three words, “Don’t you cry.” I searched for the phrase, “Don’t you cry rock lyrics” on the net and couldn’t find the song. Later I remember two more words, “Carry on”. This time, I searched for “Carry on don’t you cry lyrics” and found the name of the group on Google. I love Google search. I really do.

On the topic of Google, do you think Microsoft will acquire Yahoo next year? I really hope they don’t. But the way Yahoo! has been doing lately, it does seem possible. And Microsoft has already tried once this year. What do you think?

ish, I’ve taken care of the pr0n links. Thanks for pointing it out. 🙂

High five!!

Google Spreadsheets – Now better than Excel December 7, 2006

Posted by sk in Computers & Internet, Google, Microsoft, Technology and Software.

Yesterday a friend of mine suddenly pinged me and asked me if I had taken a look at Google Spreadsheets lately. I said I had looked at it once earlier but wasn’t really impressed. So this friend asked me to take a look at it again. She said it had everything that is present in Excel. I grudgingly decided to take a look at it. Grudgingly because I’m not the biggest fan of Google’s products. Yes, the search engine is awesome and I use it exclusively. No, I don’t like GMail. I use it for these useless websites that ask you to give out your e-mail address to register and then send you spam mails everyday. GTalk? It’s okay. Not a big fan of that either. Anyway, you already knew this, right?

I checked out Google Spreadsheets again last night and I must say I was very very impressed. It features the Excel type user interface with some added functionality. It has all the functions that one would normally use – math, statistical, financial, etc. So what if it doesn’t do charts (this could be because I used IE instead of FF? Maybe Microsoft intentionally kills some of the features?)? That’s so 19th century? So what if it doesn’t have the equivalent of VBA? Who uses that anyway? An interesting feature that’s absent in Excel is collaboration. You can collaborate with others while working on the spreadsheet. There’s also a chat window for sending love notes. I collaborated with my friend and created a new spreadsheet with three columns . Yaaaay!! I was able to save it to my computer as a pdf file. This too is something that’s missing in Excel 2003 without third party addons. This person suggested an easy method to convert Excel files to pdf format – create your file in  Excel, copy and paste the data to Google Spreadsheets, and save as pdf – simple, see? So, on the whole, it was a great experience using Google Spreadsheets and as an Engineer I definitely found it to be more useful than Microsoft Excel. But that got me thinking – why do people within Google use Microsoft Excel? Anyone?