Ronnie05's Blog

The Jesus moment of Wearables (Apple Watch) passes with a mere whimper

Posted in Body Hacking & Quantified Self, Device Platforms, New Technologies by Manas Ganguly on September 10, 2014

The Apple Watch is a great accessory- but if you expected Apple to break new ground in wearables, you would be left disappointed. Is this the pass-over of Apple to the banal.

The Apple watch has been around in discussions and blogs for a while. Coming after a slew of Android wearables,the Apple watch was supposed to be what the iPhone was to smartphones: Jesus. The announcement came yesterday night and oh Jesus! My only reaction to the Apple watch is that Apple is blowing it away. Every single point of advantage painstaking built by Steve Jobs is being undone. 

We didnot want a iPhone mini – we wanted a wearable – Apple read it wrong- and created a iPhone mini with a few modifications here, there and everywhere.

Any new category needs one “hero” thing it needs to do – in the case of wearables – create alternate health as a business. Apple Watch just created a lot of apps- that can open hotel doors and do other random things. But it didnot do – what it ought to have done – layout an eco-system roadmap that combined technology, body hacking and the health eco-system in one neat package.

I didnot assume Android would do it – but i thought Apple with its consistently disrupting innovations would lay the roadmap to fulfilling this eco-system. The answer to which is – in the current settings – Apple seems to have not done that.

The good thing is that the Apple Watch with its array of sensors has the doorways in place – and possibly Appsters will pick up – but i had expected Apple to come up neat on Health integrations. Mr. Cook didnot get his balance right- and that’s why my expectations from Apple watch remain unfulfilled.  

Apple has leveraged its App eco-system to merely create interfaces that complement the iPhone features and functionalities. I expected a novel new device – not an extension of the smartphone.May be Apple is loosing its edge – may be its time for others to push over with disruptions! 

Leave your comments on Apple Watch?

 

(Back Blogging after a month of travel. Besides the habit of blogging seems to be missing out – hopefully, will be more regular)

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Truecaller- the nemesis of telemarketers!!

Posted in Applications and User Interfaces by Manas Ganguly on July 7, 2014

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Truecaller has been around for a while and currently boasts of the first global telephone directory to identify calling numbers not stored on devices. In effect it substitutes yellow pages and takes the functionality a step further by instantly recognizing unidentified numbers. What makes this service remarkable is that it multiplies it’s intelligence in terms of crowd sourced data – which is a handy thing. In times to come Truecaller could become the search directory for mobile numbers hosted on a cloud – which to me, makes it extremely attractive to the likes of Google or Facebook.

Another interesting takeaway is that with its crowd sourced database, Truecaller could be spanner in the works for the telemarketing folks. How many times have we had that irritating phone call from a telemarketer trying to sell us things that we don’t require. With increasing sub base, and the fact that users can block or report spam, these repository of telemarketing numbers and calls from them simply mean that such calls can be silenced or refused.

In effect, True caller plays the bane of telemarketing. Something that DND registries did not achieve is done with ease by the Truecaller!

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The coming age of autonomous cars

Posted in The Cars of the Future by Manas Ganguly on June 18, 2014

Autonomous cars are no longer just the realm of science fiction – and the social and economic implications are enormous. Cars with basic autonomous capability are in showrooms today, semi autonomous cars are coming in 12-18 months, and completely autonomous cars are set to be available before the end of the decade. Beyond the practical benefits, it is estimated that autonomous cars can contribute $1.3 trillion in annual savings to the US economy alone, with global savings estimated over $5.6 trillion. There will undoubtedly be bumps in the journey – including issues of liability, infrastructure support, technical, regulatory, consumer acceptance and even pricing/ penetration. After all the conventional automobile industry has been around for 110 years and the disruption in terms of performance will take time. On the other hand, climate related issues, gasoline prices, lower costs of running will be key to faster acceptance. There would be obstacles, but none of these currently appear to be insurmountable.
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An open letter to Mr. Narendra Modi – Cleaning the Telecom Muddle in the country

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on June 15, 2014

Dear Modiji

It is refreshing to see the course of action that you have been taking to put India and Indian Economy back on track. Knowing that your time is precious, i would keep this short and to the point. I write this letter with a four pointer action plan as the road-map for the recovery of telecom sector in India. While i would avoid playing cliche, the background to all this is how telecom/ broadband penetration is directly associated with GDP acceleration and inclusive growth of the economy. Out of the very many reports that substantiate this fact, the IAMAI ICRIER report on Internet’s impact on the Indian economy suggests a $17B p.a boost to Indian economy basis broadband basis the fact that 10% increment in broadband penetration can increase GDP by 1.08%.It is believed that if the TRAI broadband roadmap 2012 targets are met, it would generate $87B to Indian economy within 2012-14 time-frame.

The policy paralysis from 2011-2014 coupled with disputes on spectrum and spectrum-pricing, retrospective taxes has arrested the growth of telecom sector – and now with a stable governance building up for next 5 years, it is expected that you would be instrumental in resolving not only the immediate issues but provide a long term vision of growth of this sector. With due respect sir, may i beg to put a few pointers to the long term needs and hence the roadmap of the industry.

The right horse and the right cart
1. While spectrum related regulations need a cobweb cleaning – it is important that the roapmap takes into account the right spectrum for telecommunications. By right spectrum, i would mean the 450 MHz and 700MHzDD bands to be put in pace. With 4G in place, if the right spectrum support is provided to the ISPs/ operators, it will give a huge boost to providing high speed broadband not only to urban centres but also to rural areas. The economic effects of putting the right spectrum and the right technology together in the long runs outweighs any immediate hassles that need to be undertaken for setting this prescription in place.

Dont put the cart before the horse
2. Growth and Governance would need to walk side by side. One cannot follow the other. While governance would need to make monies and admissibly so, retrospective actions, arbitration and taxes would need to be side stepped. A very just economic model for spectrum auctions could involve – Low CAPEX (auction rates) and higher OPEX (Revenue shares) with operators.

A few horses for inclusive development through broadband
3. A phased project scoping of telecommunication projects with critical KPIs – which could be based on social parameters, such as education, healthcare, community care powered by broadband could also be a very apt in driving inclusive and sustained growth – could also lead to interesting results. Such a project would need to be driven from the PMO in terms of a large scale integration with ministries, states and operators

The race winning horse cannot have too many jockeys
4. Last but not the least, there has to be one apex body on Telecom, suitably represented by Telcos, Telecom infra companies, other telecom eco-system players, ministries, consulting bodies and the officials. We would need to do away with too many such bodies (including the now dissolved EGOM) and too many voices and opinions (often contradicting) – and need one apex body for the industry.

I am sure, with your wisdom and perspective, many and most of these points would be in your agenda. While there are other priorities that you may right fully have, this four pointer could be a good starting point for cleaning up the Telecom muddle in the country.

Yours Faithfully.

(Views expressed in this blog are solely mine with no affinity or bias towards anyone)

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The Telco versus Broadcast battle

Posted in The future Telco by Manas Ganguly on June 11, 2014

I am blogging after a long time – – on a break evaluating couple of priorities and a new avatar possibly

As I write this, there are couple of things happening in the Indian telecom industry level

1. Reliance Jio is investing in a FTH (Fibre to Home) network mesh.
a. I am assuming that this being a costly exercise will be limited to top 40 towns and most possibly to residential and office densities.
2. Telcos such as Airtel, Reliance and Idea are aggressively investing in media houses.

If you put the two together, there appears a paradigm in the near future, where Telcos of the current day morph into broadcasting organizations – offering data, voice-over-data/telephony and television. Most of us have heard of triple play services – but given the erratic nature of Indian networks coverages and the widespread geography – these have never fulfilled into real time.

FTH operations will allow Telco model migration to broadcasting model. Why do I call this broadcasting model? Because these will typically involve a larger eco-system to share holders – targeting a customer and in return subsidizing services.

Sample this: “Super A” category localities get different TV ads versus Sec.A localities. So for the same program, a “Super A” category individual gets to see a Jaguar Ad where as a Sec.A locality person sees a Corolla Ad.

What is the potential of this? Google created the No.1 company of the world, basis online analytics. Broadcasters/Telcos have the opportunity to create more wealth by combining geography/location, content, analytics, real-time onground profiles of users. Additionally, Telcos cater to one platform at a time, Broadcasters will typically be multi-platform presence.

Is it a Telco battle in the first place? It would be the hybrid Broadcaster Telcos to initiate this change to broadcasting – there first level revenue pool would be the core Telcos. There would be a disruptive pricing across all current voice and data plans. Plain Vanilla Telcos will have difficulty in preserving revenue/profit pools in the face of such disruptive pricing. The user subsidy would be made good with advertising revenues from the service. The multiplicative effect on advertisements from multiple screens and the analytics would drive the advertising revenues. Depending upon the plan scalability, the ad revenues would account for service subsidy as well as the bottomlines for the broadcasters. Then there could be the fillip to online / digital wallets – we shall mention this as fringe benefits.

It is the Telco’s battle to loose anyway. There could a few questions about laws and regulations – but they are all expendable and changeable – we all know that, don’t we?

The network effect of Broadband on the Economy.

Posted in Industry updates by Manas Ganguly on June 1, 2014

If your believe that Broadband penetration is the messiah-like solution or the panacea to a lot of 3rd world nation issues and problems, there is good news and there is bad news. The good news is that you haven’t been thinking alone – the International Telecommunications Union has firm evidence of the positive impact of (higher) broadband penetration on the economic well being and growth of nations.

Expostulating the (positive) impact of broadband on economy of the state, the ITU states that-
First, broadband exhibits a higher contribution to economic growth in countries that have a higher adoption of the technology (this could be labelled the “critical mass” or “return to scale” theory”).
Second, broadband has a stronger productivity impact in sectors with high transaction costs, such as financial services, or high labour intensity, such as tourism and lodging.
Third, in less developed regions, as postulated in economic theory, broadband enables the adoption of more efficient business processes and leads to capital-labour substitution and, therefore loss of jobs (this could be labelled the “productivity shock theory”).
Fourth, the impact of broadband on small and medium enterprises takes longer to materialize due to the need to restructure the firms’ processes and labour organization in order to gain from adopting the technology (this is called “accumulation of intangible capital”).
Finally, the economic impact of broadband is higher when promotion of the technology is combined with stimulus of innovative businesses that are tied to new applications. In other words, the impact of broadband is neither automatic nor homogeneous across the economic system.

So much so for the obvious – but then whats the bad news: Just that broadband by itself is not the end all prescription to everything – the effect of broadband is not homogeneous across all industry groups and broadband’s positives are possibly more applicable to industries classified as under Information, Communication and Entertainment. There would have to be some bridge building for industries, which are little off-centred from the direct broadband benefits – and again, these pose interesting bundle of opportunities to businesses and entrepreneurs.

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‘Heartbleed bug’ puts Web security at risk as Virus In Protocols Used By 75% Of Servers Leaves Millions Vulnerable To Data Theft

Posted in Online Threats and risks by Manas Ganguly on April 10, 2014

A vulnerability in the OpenSSL program could compromise encryption on much of the Internet, putting passwords and data at risk. Experts say now is not the time for online banking.

A serious bug in security protocols used by over 75% web servers has left millions of internet users vulnerable to snooping and data theft. The bug, which was found in OpenSSL protocol has been dubbed Heartbleed because of how it allows “bleeding of data” from a web server.

Cyber criminals and hackers can exploit the bug to steal information such as private encryption keys, passwords of users, credit card details that users provide during e-commerce transactions and virtually every other piece of data transmitting on the affected website. They can also capture user data like chat logs for snooping.

The risk to private encryption keys is particularly worrisome. “These are the crown jewels… Leaked (private) secret keys allow the attacker to decrypt any past and future traffic to the protected services and to impersonate the service (like a social networking website or an email service) at will,” OpenSSL explained a website set up to inform public about Heartbleed.

While large companies like Google and Facebook, which run their own customized security protocols, are probably safe, Yahoo was among the millions of websites that seem to have been affected. Yahoo officials on Tuesday said that they have taken required measures to secure Yahoo servers against Heartbleed.

The bug is so serious and widespread that Tor Project, which manages the anonymous (and popular) Tor network, has advised web users to go offline for a while. “If you need strong anonymity or privacy on the internet, you might want to stay away from the internet entirely for the next few days while things settle,” it said in a blog post.

Neartbleed

Bruce Schneier, a cryptographer and one of the top computer security researchers, called the bug catastrophic. “On the scale of 1 to 10, this is an 11,” he said. Though Heartbleed was discovered on April 7, it had existed for more than two years. “This bug has left large amount of private keys and other secrets exposed to the internet. Considering the long exposure, ease of exploitation and attacks leaving no trace this exposure should be taken seriously,” explained the Heartbleed website.

After the bug was disclosed publicly, thousands of websites have patched and updated their web servers. But given the nature of the bug, large parts of the internet remain vulnerable.

While Heartbleed directly affects web servers, the average web user invariably ends up a victim. In an answer to a question — Am I affected by the bug? — the OpenSSL website notes, “you are likely to be affected either directly or indirectly”. “Your popular social site, your company’s site, commerce site, hobby site, site you install software from or even sites run by your government might be using vulnerable OpenSSL. Many of online services use TLS to both to identify themselves to you and to protect your privacy and transactions,” notes the website.

Facebook drones to offer low cost net access to all

Posted in Drones, New Technologies by Manas Ganguly on March 30, 2014

It is no secret that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to see the whole humanity connected to the web. Unfortunately internet connections are just not available in many places. But Zuckerberg believes he has a solution for this pesky problem.On Thursday, he announced that Internet.org, an organization that Facebook started in partnership with a few other technology companies, is experimenting with drones that are capable of beaming internet in an area from the sky. “In our effort to connect the whole world with Internet.org, we’ve been working on ways to beam internet to people from the sky,” Zuckerberg wrote on Facebook.

“Our team has many of the world’s leading experts in aerospace and communications technology, including from Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Lab and Ames Research Center. Today we are also bringing on key members of the team from Ascenta, a small UKbased company whose founders created early versions of Zephyr, which became the world’s longest flying solar-powered unmanned aircraft. They will join our team working on connectivity aircraft.”

Internet.org was launched last year with an aim to bring down the cost of internet connectivity across the world so that more people can connect to the web and utilize web services. Last month at Mobile World Congress, Zuckerberg revealed that Internet.org was working with several telecom operators across the world to reduce the cost of internet connectivity.

Facebook on Thursday revealed that the team exploring various methods to beam internet from sky is part of Connectivity Lab, a new department within Internet.org. It is exploring various options. A solar-powered drone is one option.

30032014b

“For suburban areas in limited geographical regions, we’ve been working on solar-powered high altitude, long endurance aircraft that can stay aloft for months, be quickly deployed and deliver reliable internet connections,” Internet.org noted in a statement posted on its website. “For lower-density areas, low-Earth orbit and geosynchronous satellites can beam internet access to the ground.” In both cases, the internet connection will be beamed through free-space optical communication, which makes use of “light to transmit data through space using invisible, infrared laser beams”. “Free-space optical communication is a promising technology that potentially allows us to dramatically boost the speed of internet connections provided by satellites and drones,” noted Internet.org.

Among various options, the team of experts is considering a solar-powered drone that can stay aloft for months, be quickly deployed and deliver reliable internet connection

Among various options, the team of experts is considering a solar-powered drone that can stay aloft for months, be quickly deployed and deliver reliable internet connection

In his attempts to beam internet from sky, Zuckerberg is not alone. Larry Page and Sergei Brin, co-founders of Google, are also interested in connecting more people to the web. Last year Google announced Project Loon that intends to use high-altitude balloons to deliver fast internet in remote areas. Explaining Project Loon, Google says, “Project Loon balloons float in the stratosphere, twice as high as airplanes and the weather. People can connect to the balloon network using a special internet antenna attached to their building.” Google had earlier experimented with Project Loon balloons in New Zealand. The company is now testing these balloons in California.

Should Android be tentative about wearables and vice versa?

Posted in Body Hacking & Quantified Self by Manas Ganguly on March 15, 2014

A few days back Google released an Android software developer kit for wearables in a move that should lead to smartwatch and other gear. What remains to be seen is how well Android can adapt to the small screen.

In an announcement that came at the SXSW Sundar Pichai, who heads Google Chrome and Android efforts said he wants to connect to a bevy of sensors and wearables with Android. Google’s Android is already moving into automobiles. Android has proved it can move to larger screens. From the smartphone, Android has hit tablets, TVs and even PCs. However, the small screen may be trickier—assuming some of these wearables and sensor-first devices even have screens. Here’s a look at Android’s key challenges as they relate to the wearable market:

1. Wearable computing operating systems need to be silently working in the background – effortlessly and elegantly. Android’s Achilles Heel is the working in the background bit.
2. The Wearables ecosystem is a smarter one having learnt its lessons from Smartphones. Already Intel and Samsung have upped their game and presence. OEMs this time may not want to play all of it into one corner.Android means a race to the bottom for hardware makers.
3. Its hard to be one OS for all screens – the OS must have to be lightened considerably especially for wearables. Android could simply be too bulky to be useful in wearable computing.
4. Apps for the wearables will need a serious rethink – especially in the sense that these may not be visible apps or may have to pair devices in groups for serious activity
5. There’s a bit of unease about Google and data. Android in a smartwatch seems like a no brainer since the device to date is merely an extension of the smartphone. However,users may be wary of sharing vital signs with Google and may not want ads and pitches via a wearable. Google is all about the ads and wearable computing can make pitches a bit more freaky.

Sooner than later, these challenges will be overcome by Google, but I’ve been in the tech industry long enough to know that retrofits and alternates don’t always fly. Adapting Android to wearable computing is likely to be harder than it appears on the whiteboard.

Zuck’s droning plans

Posted in Drones, New Technologies by Manas Ganguly on March 5, 2014

A $60mn acquisition to bring internet to everyone, everywhere. Mark Zuckerberg has his sights set on his ambitious Internet.org and is busying himself delivering internet in the remotest places on earth. To do this and more Zuckerberg is reportedly buying out a manufacturer of drones, Titan Aerospace.

Titan Aerospace

Titan’s drones, which resemble solar-powered airplanes, are designed to fly as high as 65,000 feet and stay aloft for as long as five years — essentially functioning like cheap satellites. They could blanket large areas with wireless Internet signals, although the signals would be slower and unable to handle as much data as land-based Internet connections. For remote places like rural Africa, they would be enough to provide at least rudimentary access to the Internet through mobile phones.

Facebook would have to overcome lots of technical and legal problems before a global Facenet would be a reality. But the idea would allow the social network to one-up its rival, Google, which has its own far-fetched plan to extend the Internet to far-flung places via a network of balloons. And it is a lot closer to reality than Amazon’s idea of drones that will deliver packages.

For once it is nice to see drones connecting rather than decimating indiscriminately with Hellfire missiles…
As for Zuckerberg, the nay-sayers and skeptics see another grand vision of taking control of user personal data (this thought has taken serious roots with the $19bn acquistion of WhatsApp)

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