Business, Finance, GMail, Google, internet, laptops, Microsoft, Software, Stocks, Technology, yahoo, YouTube, Zune

The War Between MSFT and GOOG’s Not Yet Over

The other day, I made some points on this entire move made by Microsoft. Most of this was focused on the effect it will have on Yahoo and how the combined entity will be able to pull off such a humongous merger. There is a very interesting post in the Official Google blog that totally highlights their insecurity:

So Microsoft’s hostile bid for Yahoo! raises troubling questions. This is about more than simply a financial transaction, one company taking over another. It’s about preserving the underlying principles of the Internet: openness and innovation.

Could Microsoft now attempt to exert the same sort of inappropriate and illegal influence over the Internet that it did with the PC? While the Internet rewards competitive innovation, Microsoft has frequently sought to establish proprietary monopolies — and then leverage its dominance into new, adjacent markets.

It’s tantamount to one thief calling the other person a thief! What about Google’s interest in the 700 MHz spectrum? What about their “habit” of copying each product that their competitors release? None of their products like Google Documents, Google Talk, Google Mail etc. are totally “original”. They shouldn’t even be talking about Microsoft’s “legacy of serious legal and regulatory offenses”. Their financial statements were being audited sometime back because the regulatory authorities felt that they were incomplete. Correct me if I’m wrong.

It’s not that I’m against Google. In fact, most of my regular readers call me an “Anti Microsoft” person. So this post is quite out of the line for me. You won’t read such good words for Microsoft very often on this blog.

I think Google feels quite threatened and they have good reason to be. Microsoft has a huge share in the PC Market and if they were to merge with Yahoo, then the internet dominance fight will only get more interesting. The consumers will benefit in either case. So it’s good for the consumers I would say.

Further, they say:

Could a combination of the two take advantage of a PC software monopoly to unfairly limit the ability of consumers to freely access competitors’ email, IM, and web-based services?

Google shouldn’t even be commenting on the monopoly issue here because this is exactly what they are trying to do now. How else would you explain their coming out with every possible internet service and all of them being accessible from a single Google account?

And you’ll find it interesting to know that I could hardly find any “Google suggestions” when I started typing “Google trouble” or “Google audit”. Of course, Yahoo! gave me more results for once.

Market Watch (owned by News Corp) has another take on this entire issue. I kind of agree with what they have to say because it’s perfectly logical and quite unbiased. While they mention this positive point:

If Microsoft’s acquisition of Yahoo is consummated…

…the Goliath of the PC desktop will represent the one truly credible competitor to Google in the online world. (News Corp. is the owner of, the publisher of this column.)

They also mention the negatives:

Put it all together, and Microsoft/Yahoo vaults to the number one position with site traffic that’s nearly double Google’s. That’s the good news. The combination would still lag Google’s sales by a factor of two to one — $2.6 billion for Microsoft/Yahoo in the last quarter of 2007, despite the traffic advantage, as compared with $4.8 billion for Google.

And I agree that Microsoft +Yahoo is the only way that Google can be stopped. Otherwise, even though Google propounds “Do No Evil”, this is exactly what the company has started to do and will do full scale in the future.

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Movie: The Orphanage

The Orphanage is a great movie based on the supernatural powers. I’m not really a fan of horror movies, but this one was exceptional. Luckily, I got to view it in an independent theater called Moxie Cinema here. They keep playing all kinds of international and off-beat movies. And one of the best things about this theater is that every part of the service is very personalized. The capacity of the theater is quite small- it’s no bigger than two large sized bedroom. They have a lovely wooden stage. Before the start of each show, someone actually gets up there and gives a general introduction to the movie and other upcoming attractions. You also get beer- which no other theater allows (at least in my town). Today was the Super Bowl night here; so I managed to get a ticket even though I reached just two minutes before the start of the show.

Back to the movie- One of the reasons for watching this movie was because it’s been made by Guillermo del Toro, the same person who made Pan’s Labyrinth. The treatment is somewhat similar to The Sixth Sense. So, if you enjoyed Shyamalan’s masterpiece, then there is a high probability that you’ll love this movie. I like the fact that there is a very strong storyline connecting the events. It’s not like those creepy horror movies where the director’s intention is to only make you jump out of your seats.

Some of the scenes in this movie were quite scary and there were two girls sitting behind me who had put their mufflers to good use. Even I jumped out of my seat at least a couple of times- and once, I got a horrible cramp, that took at least ten minutes to subside.

The movie is primarily about Laura, brilliantly played by Belen Rueda, who comes back to her old orphanage to open a small home for special children. She has a husband (Carlos) who is a doctor and an adopted child, Simon, who is HIV positive. Now starts the horror show. Simon starts talking to his parents about his invisible friends and how he plays with them. Obviously, the parents don’t fall for it. About half an hour into the movie, the boy disappears. Nobody knows why or how. The rest of the movie is about a mother’s quest to get back her child at any expense. I can’t talk about any of the other scenes of this movie without giving away the plot line.

I seem to have developed a special affection for Spanish films these days. I watched this movie tonight after at least ten days, which is a very long interval by my standards. Be prepared to feel a little morose once the movie is over. So if you want to watch a movie with a happy ending or you like those John Cusack kind of horror movies, then give this movie a miss.

The theater was also airing trailers of Persepolis, a movie on the famous Graphic Novel. I can’t wait to get a copy of that next. If any of you have seen this movie or read the graphic novel, then please let me know about your views.


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Music Review- Jodhaa Akbar


Jodhaa Akbar is Ashutosh Gowariker’s soon to be released film and is based on the love story of the Rajput princess Jodhaa and the famous Mughal Emperor, Akbar. The music of this movie makes a big splash, typical AR Rehman style. Ever since the promos have been aired, I have been eagerly waiting for the album to be released. Without further ado, let’s get down to the nitty gritty!

The first track of the album, Azeem-O-Shahenshah opens with lots of earth shattering beats and fan fare. It transports you back to the Mughal Era and makes you want you dance, in a way. It’s been sung by Mohammad Aslam and Bony Chakravarthy. Never heard either of them singing before. Rehman does a good job of mixing some soft tunes in between his trademark beats.

The second track, Jash-e-Bahaara, has been beautifully sung by Javed Ali. It’s a very melodious and romantic song. I have seen the song on Youtube (Click here) and Aishwarya Rai looks really pretty. I’m not really sure if Hrithik Roshan suits the role of Akbar. Hrithik just looks like Hrithik! Towards the end of the album, you’ll also find an instrumental theme based on this song.

The third track, Khwaja Mere Khwaja, has been sung by the maestro, A.R Rehman himself and is my favorite 😀 It reminds me of Ishq Bina from Taal and Piya Haji Ali from Fiza. I have always felt that AR Rehman excels when it comes to Sufi music. I don’t know how he manages to compose these songs, because this genre is definitely one of the most difficult to even conceptualize. I’m a sucker for A.R Rehman’s voice because it’s quite distinct and a little “cracked”, if you know what I mean.

Sonu Nigam and Madhusree have done a decent job in the next song, Inn Lamho Ke Daaman Mein. I didn’t really like this song much, because it gets spoilt by some unnecessary strong vocals. The entire effect is not very good. The last song, Man Mohanna, which has been sung by Bela Shende, is also quite dull compared to the first few tracks in the album. You might like it if you are fine with devotional songs.

All in all, I highly recommend this album. It lives up to the expectations of AR Rehman fan(atics)s and is one of the best Hindi Movies albums to be released in a long time. The last that I liked was Guru, which had also been composed by AR Rehman. 🙂

I’m not sure if I’ll watch the movie- I don’t fancy Hrithik Roshan trying his level hard to portray the role of Akbar. Wasn’t Akbar a little rotund? Hrithik should have put on some weight, at least. We could have expected some more perfectionism from him. Anyway, this is a music review and I don’t intend to spoil it by talking about Hrithik Roshan.

You can download the album from this link.

Rating: 4/5

Let’s end this review by watching a trailer from the movie:

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Aggregate All Your Online Feeds

Online social networks seem to be proliferating at an exponential rate and it has become quite necessary for us to aggregate them in one place. It’s difficult to keep track of different people and their online activity in different networks. There are lots of websites online where you can aggregate all your online accounts and then, circulate a “master feed”, that simplifies the entire process. I really love this idea and have been tinkering with it since the past couple of days. These are some of the websites that I would recommend:

1. Friendfeed– Started by three ex-Google employees, and still in beta phase. You need to request an invitation to join it. I got mine on the same day. They plan to make this service public by the end of next month. The UI is extremely simple and resembles Google. Friendfeed tops my list for the simplicity of the sign up process (less than 30 seconds), and the overall usability. You can aggregate all your online accounts, such as Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Facebook status updates, Netflix queue, Amazon wish list, Tumblr, Youtube, Blogs, Digg, Stumbleupon, Reddit, Delicious…I’m tired! 🙂 Your friends can just subscribe to the “master feed” and know what you’ve been doing everywhere. Simplicity is what we should aim for. Take a look at my Friendfeed page.

People can also comment on your activities and decide if they “Like it”. Deleting a particular activity from your feed is also very easy and takes only a single click. You can also install a bookmarklet that lets you post anything that you liked to your friendfeed profile. You can also install a Facebook application that will integrate your Friendfeed with your Facebook profile. I haven’t seen these features in any of the other “Aggregation” services.

The only drawback that I see here is that there is no way of adding any sort of single sentence profile. has ten suggestions for its improvement.

Rating: 5/5

2.– Very similar to friendfeed, minus the ability to comment. The best part is that you can try the service without even signing up. Of course, if you want to make your profile permanent, then you need to make an account, that takes only 20 seconds. You can customize the look of your page by adding a theme and editing the CSS. But I didn’t like the fact that I need to click twice in order to delete a particular entry (once, initially, and the second time, to confirm) and for me, that’s very important! But yes, it’s open to public and you don’t need to wait for an invitation. Take a look at my soup page.

Rating: 4.5/5

3. Readr– This has been in existence since a longer time, compared to Friendfeed and Again, you have the ability to comment on particular items, choose a theme and merge all your online accounts together. There is nothing unique about this service, IMO. and Readr are clones of each other. Readr’s output of the feeds is not that nice looking and it kind of looks jumbled up. Another problem is that when you initially set up an account with them, then your items will be shown in the order you added the feeds and not in the chronological order. So, you might have three pages of Delicious, two pages of Stumbleupon, one page of Digg etc. You get the picture. Take a look at my page for an example. The process of adding accounts was a little more cumbersome because the default number of accounts that are available are less compared to Friendfeed or

Rating: 3.75/5

Apart from these major player, there are others such as Mugshot, 30boxes (the sign up process needed me to click on a link in an email and that is a complete no-no when we compare it with its competitors), etc. The bottomline- The web 2.0 sites are showing a tremendous upsurge in the usage. If you don’t sign up for an aggregator today, you very well have to a couple of months down the line. And what are those RSS feeds for? We need to embrace anything that helps us save time (and become lazier).

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Replaying Old Ads and Songs

Ever since I wrote that post on Malgudi Days, I have not stopped thinking about Indian Television and the shows/advertisements/jingles that we used to watch in ’80s and early ’90s. If you’re away from India, like me, then it is likely that you miss these shows much more and can’t wait to catch a glimpse of these.

I’ve tried to collect some of them in this post-

1. Ek Titli Anek Titli (Thanks Bong’o’P’ondit)- An old song that talks about the strength of unity.

2. Mile Sur Mera Tumhara- The objective of the video was to instill a sense of pride and promote unity amongst Indians, highlighting the different linguistic communities and societies that live in India. Created in 1988 by Doordarshan. (From Wikipedia)

3. Humara Bajaj Ad- We hardly get to see such genuine, patriotic ads these days!

4. Doodh Doodh Doodh- It’s fresh. It’s pure. It’s co-operative Milk! Not so sure about that anymore. The proportion of water is definitely greater than milk. Lovely ad though. 🙂

5. Surf Lalitaji Commercial- Bhaaaisaab! Need I say more? 🙂

6. Jungle Book- Chaddi pehen ke Phool Khila Hai 😉 Wasn’t he the hottest guy?

7. Mahabharat Opening Credits- Every Sunday morning, every single household in the country had this song blaring from their television sets..I’m dead sure.

P.S- I don’t mean to hurt the feelings of people belonging to other religious sects. It’s just a general recollection.

8. Cadbury India Ad (Kuch Khaas Hai)- Never seen a hotter batsman…seriously. 🙂

9. Yeh Joh Zindagi Hai- Beatiful Title Track sung by none other than Kishore Kumar and starring Shafi Inamdar, Swaroop Sampat, Rakesh Bedi and Satish Shah.

10. Orangie Orangie I love you Rasna!

11. Complan Commercial- The young stars in this ad are supposedly Shahid Kapoor and Ayesha Takia.

Famous punch line- I’m a Complan Girl! I’m a Complan Boy!

12. Old Liril Commercial (1975)- I’m surprised that they allowed a bikini clad woman to be aired in an ad in 1975. 😐

13. Surabhi can be viewed at Youtube. (Thanks Ulag- for reminding me)

Some ads I couldn’t find-Does anyone have these video?

1. Bajaj Ad- Jab mein chota bachcha tha, badi shararat karta tha…meri chori pakdi jaati…tab roshan hota Bajaj.

2. Vicco Turmeric Nahi Cosmetic ..Vicco Turmeric Ayurvedic Cream.

3. Boost Ad (Kapil Dev)- Boost is the secret of MY energy…OUR energy!

4. Priya Tendulkar as Rajani. When I tried searching for this, I only found hits relevant to Rajnikanth and Sivaji. 😦

5. Old Nirma Ad

Please feel free to add more to this list. I’ll edit this post accordingly. 🙂

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Knut the Polar Bear

Knut, is a one year old polar bear who is being brought up at Berlin Zoo, after his mother refused to accept him. The animal rights activists worldwide caused a ruckus over this issue and they wanted Knut to be killed, instead of being raised by humans. Their reasoning was that it is “shameful” for a wild animal to be brought up by humans and turned into a domestic pet.

I can’t believe that people who profess to be lovers of animals can even issue such a statement in the first place. Secondly, take a look at Knut (and a video here)

How can anyone have the heart to kill him? Knut is the first polar bear to have survived in more than thirty years at the Berlin Zoo. Just when you think that the zoo keepers and the other officials are a hero, another piece of news comes in the limelight- That the very same zoo who had stood up for their action, has now refused to save the lives of two other polar bears, who are not being fed by their mother. Why? because they don’t want to get into th Knut mania again.

They have not been able to spot the two polar bears recently and think that the mother- after realizing that the cubs are ill- might have either let them die or killed them herself, and later, eaten them up.

The zoo again went back to its former policy (after another public outcry) of saving the cubs because another polar bear, Vera, is about to give birth.

Most of the wild animals who are brought up in captivity, if they survive get very domesticated and lose their natural, wild ability to defend themselves. So many times, after they’re brought up, the care takers leave them in the wild, hoping that they will survive, which is often not the case.

The important question here is whether we should let nature take its course (what the zoo officials did in the case of the two polar bears) or interfere and try to protect the animal in danger (in the case of Knut)? People have different opinions and given the small rate of survival in captivity, many of us would feel that its better for nature to take its course of action.

Personally, I like the way Knut is being raised by hand. This way, we’re at least trying to save the bear’s life, even though the animal might not survive in the future.

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Christmas, General ramblings, India, Santa Claus, Taj Mahal, Thoughts, YouTube

Track Santa

This website helps you track Santa Claus, as he delivers presents all over the world tonight. No, don’t laugh! Keep the faith!

There is a cool Google Map that shows the cities/towns where Santa’s already delivered the goodies.

Here is the video of Santa’s first sighting-

There is this video where Santa is shown flying over the Taj Mahal. Err…isn’t flying over the Taj Mahal prohibited? Maybe the Government makes an exception for Santa Claus. 😐

For other videos, check out this page from Youtube.

There is a page that’s titled “Is He Real?”. According to the website, of course, he’s real. Another page tracks the number of cookies he’s already eaten. Want to know the number? It had crossed 1 billion the last time I checked. The counter gets updated every nano second. Not a very good message heath wise, eh?

Yes, I used to believe in this stuff as a kid too. Not anymore. If anyone were to ask me if it’s real, then I wouldn’t come up with such elaborate lies. At one particular place in the website, it’s written-

Long before the Wright brothers flew the first airplane or the Montgolfier brothers flew the first hot air balloon, Santa knew he had to find a way to travel quickly from house to house at great speed. We know from our Santa Cam images that Santa’s choice for quick transportation was a herd of flying reindeer. Of course, to this day, detailed information on these reindeer remains a mystery. We do know, however, that Santa somehow found a way to get the reindeer to help him with his worldwide mission of gift giving. A veil of sweet mystery hides the rest.

I can’t stop squirming in my chair. This website is probably getting a lot of hits. Whatever! Happy Holidays everyone.

P.S- Sorry for not replying to your comments. I’ll do that as soon as I can.

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