Watch this : Do you really need to switch off your phone on the plane ?

All mobile phones these days come with a “flight mode” and when you put this on to flight mode, all connections that transmit or receive are turned off. Be it WiFi or Bluetooth, GSM, GPRS all the modes of communication are closed off and are kept as a feature for usage by companies as many airlines insist on switching these off especially during take off and landing. Not only do they ask passengers to turn off connections they also insist on switching off these days. On my recent trip to India, flying on Emirates, I found myself telling a fellow passenger to switch off his phone as well and had a bit of an argument with him as well.

Nokia Mobile Phone

Emirates is quite a progressive airline allowing people to make and receive calls during flights but even they insist these ceremonies during take off and landing. Once I landed in Dubai and when I have started to look back at the trip I am beginning to think if it is actually required to switch off phones, not just take them to “flight mode” even in this day and age.

Before I present my justification, I think you all should see this video :

First things first most airlines including Emirates Airlines do not really understand the “flight mode” in mobile phones, considering that Android is the most popular Operating Phones these days and Android has the flight mode feature since the early inceptions of the OS, it is clear that Airlines need to pay attention to this setting, considering it was made for them.

Secondly a search trying to find if the mobiles actually cause disruptions in the signal of the sophisticated commercial airliners to today, comes up with some interesting conclusions, here is what I found out. Logic says that Airlines would not let us carry phones if it did, take the scenario that liquids over 100 ml could be mixed to make explosives, so they don’t let us carry more than 100ml. If this was the case with cell phones, they would not have let us carry these. Instead, an arbitrary set of rules established by the FAA and extended by the airlines prohibits iPods during takeoff, but explicitly allow electric shavers to be used during flight.

What about the regulations ? 

The governing body for Airlines and Airports, IATA mentioned in a study commissioned in 1993, suggested that airlines prohibit the use of personal electronic devices during takeoff and landing, despite a lack of evidence that these gadgets had caused a single accident.

In Nov 2009, the Federal Airlines Authority (FAA) of the US again mentioned in an immediate release that “there is insufficient information to support a wholesale change in policies that restrict use of PEDs.” The actual rule from FAA on this is here :

§ 121.306   Portable electronic devices.
(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no person may operate, nor may any operator or pilot in command of an aircraft allow the operation of, any portable electronic device on any U.S.-registered civil aircraft operating under this part.
(b) Paragraph (a) of this section does not apply to—
(1) Portable voice recorders;
(2) Hearing aids;
(3) Heart pacemakers;
(4) Electric shavers; or
(5) Any other portable electronic device that the [airline] has determined will not cause interference with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which it is to be used.
(c) The determination required by paragraph (b)(5) of this section shall be made by that [airline] operating the particular device to be used.
[Doc. No. FAA–1998–4954, 64 FR 1080, Jan. 7, 1999]

The FAA has since approved the use of Wi Fi inside the planes, and also for communicating with Airports and control towers, the frequencies of which (2.4 Ghz) have a similar effect. So based on which your iPhone or Nokia might crash the plane but not your laptop using WiFi ??

The other reasoning 

The other reasoning is that people do not pay attention to the announcements that the crew is making, or the captain is making during take off or landing and thus is a danger eventually. Well I should say good point there, but this should be forced on to your screens at the back of the seat anyway like what Emirates and other carriers do. How are we to trust someone telling us that reading a iPad document during takeoff is dangerous as we stare across a field of EMI-spewing LCD seat-back screens? Or the pilots wearing the digital watches on their wrists much closer to all the gadgets.

Another justification seems that there are those who don’t switch off even after saying it, so everyone should switch off everything. But well if there is no proof that people using these gadgets can cause a risk, then well it should not matter now does it.

The last one seems more like it, people do not want to listen to other people rant even if it means to a loved one. People want to fly and read or reflect on their thoughts when they do so. So if its a way to  “Shut up and fly” then well that is something understandable.

My verdict after reading this : Its a Dumb rule

More interesting Read : 

The most bizzare Suicide ever

I try not to write things that are on some other sites, maybe some extracts but this was something so inquisitive that I felt that it should be shared here too. This is a Suicide story from 1994, and is so bizzare that I will let you choose if it was a suicide or it was something else, I would call it fate. And an extreme example of it. Read till the end, its a bit long but interesting nevertheless.

At the 1994 annual awards dinner given by the American Association for Forensic Sciences, AAFS President Don Harper Mills astounded his audience in San Diego with the legal complications of a bizarre death. Here is the story…

On March 23 the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a gunshot wound of the head caused by a shotgun. Investigation to that point had revealed that the decedent had jumped from the top of a ten story building with the intent to commit suicide. (He left a note indicating his despondency.) As he passed the 9th floor on the way down, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window, killing him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the decedent was aware that a safety net had been erected at the 8th floor level to protect some window washers, and that the decedent would not have been able to complete his intent to commit suicide because of this…

Ordinarily a person who starts into motion the events with a suicide intent ultimately commits suicide even though the mechanism might be not what he intended. That he was shot on the way to certain death nine stories below probably would not change his mode of death from suicide to homicide, but the fact that his suicide intent would not have been achieved under any circumstance caused the medical examiner to feel that he had homicide on his hands…

Further investigation led to the discovery that the room on the 9th floor from whence the shotgun blast emanated was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. He was threatening her with the shotgun because of an interspousal spat and became so upset that he could not hold the shotgun straight. Therefore, when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife, and the pellets went through the window, striking the decedent.

When one intends to kill subject A, but kills subject B in the attempt, one is guilty of the murder of subject B. The old man was confronted with this conclusion, but both he and his wife were adamant in stating that neither knew that the shotgun was loaded. It was the longtime habit of the old man to threaten his wife with an unloaded shotgun. He had no intent to murder her; therefore, the killing of the decedent appeared then to be accident. That is, the gun had been accidentally loaded…

But further investigation turned up a witness that their son was seen loading the shotgun approximately six weeks prior to the fatal accident. That investigation showed that the mother (the old lady) had cut off her son’s financial support, and her son, knowing the propensity of his father to use the shotgun threateningly, loaded the gun with the expectation that the father would shoot his mother. The case now becomes one of murder on the part of the son for the death of Ronald Opus…

Further investigation revealed that the son became increasingly despondent over the failure of his attempt to get his mother murdered. This led him to jump off the ten story building on March 23, only to be killed by a shotgun blast through a 9th story window.

The medical examiner closed the case as a suicide.

Earth Hour activities to participate in Dubai, Dare to go Green – 2012

Earth Hour is back this year, which means. It’s lights out for the UAE come March 31, as residents unite in a global cause to combat climate change.

This year, Earth Hour will again witness landmarks across UAE, including the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi and Al Qasbah in Sharjah, as they plunge into darkness for one hour in support of the world’s largest environmental event in history.

However, the 2012 initiative will not just request a one-hour conservation pledge, but hopefully aims to target residents at the grassroots level by hosting a number of public events and social media campaigns to target the society at large to participate in the most essential cause.

“Earth Hour is not about turning off your lights for one hour, but an opportunity for all of us to reflect on how our everyday actions impact our environment”

So whats happening in Dubai

Candlelight march at Burj Park Downtown

Organised by Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) and held under the patronage of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, families and friends are welcome to light the way for a better tomorrow as they bear witness to the tallest building in the world, Burj Khalifa, switching off its lights for one hour to commemorate Earth Hour.

The walk will commence from the Burj Plaza towards Burj Park. The event starts from 5pm, while the candlelight march will begin at 8:30pm.

Light up a lamp at Dubai Internet City

Canon Middle East is inviting environmentalists and those who love Mother Earth to join them in this global initiative as its employees and their families gather outside the office building in Dubai Internet City with lamps as a sign of solidarity for Earth Hour and to make a pledge that they will take long term actions towards environmental conservation.

Additionally, Canon has also announced a public photo competition entitled “My Earth, My Lens, where people will be required to take a photograph that best symbolises what the environment means to them.

Photographs could range from images of the ocean to pictures of gardens, and will need to be accompanied by a photo caption that best captures the essence of the image.

If you are at Abu Dhabi

Drumming on the Corniche

The ongoing Abu Dhabi Festival is inviting residents in the capital to join millions of people around the world in celebrating the annual Earth Hour. Abu Dhabi will celebrate the evening with a drumming spectacular on the Corniche aiming to spread the important message of environmental awareness to passers-by.

The event kicks off from 7pm until 9.30pm at the Sahil Al Maydan Corniche in Abu Dhabi.

Cycle to save the Earth

For the second year in a row, Fairmont Bab Al Bahr in Abu Dhabi plans to go beyond 60 minutes by generating 24 hours of clean, renewable green energy through cycling to further support the biggest climate awareness campaign from the World Wildlife Foundation.

From 10.30am on Saturday, March 31 until 10.30am Sunday April 1, the lobby of the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr will be outfitted with stationary bicycles.

With the use of dynamo technology and a full 24 hours of cycling shared amongst residents in the community, guests and hotel colleague participants, this “pedal power” will activate an LED lighting structure, fashioned after the property’s iconic facade, with symmetrical LED lights designed to reflect the water patterns of the Abu Dhabi Creek.

Sharjah and Northern Emirates

Family fun day

In Sharjah, a family event is being planned in Al Majaz Park by the Environment and Protected Areas of Sharjah.

Residents can participate in a host of activities including environmental competitions and a musical performance. The event starts from 6pm.

Music for the soul

In Ras Al Khaimah, the emirate’s tourism development authority has partnered with Al Manar Mall to invite the residents to join a public gathering with an acoustic performance by Fusion Again music band. The performance will start at 8:30pm.

Light the way

In Fujairah, a low-key event will take place in front of the municipality building, with candles and floating lanterns to mark Earth Hour. The event will start at 8:30 pm.

On Social Media 

There is another massive campaign online for Earth Hour is taking place which is more interesting than the offline campaigns and something that encourages people to work on the grass roots level. I will if you will. Check out 2 of my fav RJ’s on radio Catboy and Georgdie Bird on this one. The concept is simple: inspire others by challenging them to commit to an environtmental action in exchange for a dare.

Some more Dare’s below:

Check out more challenges and dares here.

Prediction : Future Phones will not come with chargers

The other day I was out of charge on my phone which is a rare thing considering that I got a new Galaxy Nexus (Yes I will post a review) which is not only energy efficient but by far the best battery I have seen on a portable device taking the phone to nearly 2 days of talking and wifi without the need of charging. Back to where I was,  the need for a charger was large and the charger was no where in sight, shopped around in the office and found a blackberry charger that well fit the phone very well. This got me thinking, well why don’t all manufacturers come up with some universal standard for the charger if required. At all other times they can use alternative means built into the phone itself. I have been writing about some of these here on the blog before. Lets see whats available.

First off the Charger itself 

The mini USB is pretty much a standard charger at the moment for a lot of phones, my Blackberry, the Nexus One and now the Galaxy Nexus all seem to love it. But move Blackberry models and phones, you will quickly see that its not enough its just another in the large market for charger pins. In fact when I got this car charger from Merlin in Dubai, looked like there are a lot more than just the mini USB in the market.

Add the ever popular iPhone and the other Galaxy smartphones and the chargers change. I am not sure if the mini USB is the best standard, but considering that most people seem to have one lying around these days, looks like this could be a good standard to follow.

Getting to the Chargers built in with the phone 

First getting through the familier, here is a list of some you can read within the blog:

Indian Innovation : Wind Powered Helmet mounted Cell phone charger

Indian Innovation : Hand Powered Mobile Phones 

Thermoelectric boots charge your mobile phone

Charging phone from the movement of the owners

Charging Phones with residual energy from airwaves

Charging phones with body heat

Some more from other blogs that can fill up the gap with more innovations

Nokia Bicycle charging kit 

Some Eco friendly charging options (must see) 

Juicebox, the charging platform available in public places

Another Charger using movement of phones 

Mobile phones charged by the power of speech

Wind-powered mobile phone charger

Mobile phones in developing nations could charge up using dirt

Sound Charge t-shirt tops up mobile devices using sound

Solar powered tie charges your mobile phone

Piezoelectric generator creates power from shoes

Interestingly a lot of these were invented by Nokia in an attempt to make the lives of all better, but the lack of good software (ahem .. Android) has kind of made it difficult for Nokia to make it big in the market, we might be able to see some of these innovations in the Mobile Phones running Windows Mobile. Keeping fingers crossed to see the Lumia 900 with one of these built in.

From notifications that require attention of the users towards energy saving and other power saving tips to alerts when Phone batteries are fully charged, the chargers require an upgrade if possible to go with apps that are coming up on phones to do the same on the software side. All in all it seems like a really required innovation that the manufacturers are keeping away from the consumers, even though it seems like they have most of these figured out. Well only time will tell if these innovations will get lost or really get implemented into future phones. Are you listening Google, Apple and ofcourse Nokia.

Phone stacking, you really need to know about this.

In my recent memory I cannot remember the day when I left the house without my mobile phone. Our lives are more or less run my Mobile Phones. Being in construction, the entire “coordination” for all activities on site / engineering and others actually relies completely on Mobile Phones. This gets even worse with fields like sales, events where constant updates change the game. The additional usage gets worse when you include such devils as the BBM into the equation. Although I use it in my opinion it is a plague to the society. From movies to the dinner table including first dates, people all over the place seem to be using their phones.

One annoying habit that seems to be very common is people sitting with friends or family and are on the phone chatting, checking emails etc to be somewhere else. And this is not just work related stuff (some people are justified with that). So in another out of box thinking a new solution has appeared online, from tumblers to now the bigger blogs all are talking about Phone Stacking.

I ’ve seen/heard this described as both “The Phone Stacking Game” and “Don’t Be a Dick During Meals”, but a quick  poll of my friends suggests that it hasn’t become widespread yet. Which is a shame, because it’s perfect for folks in tech. Interested to learn more ?

Rules:

1) The game starts after everyone has ordered.

2) Everybody places their phone on the table face down.

3) The first person to flip over their phone loses the game.

4) Loser of the game pays for the bill.

5) If the bill comes before anyone has flipped over their phone everybody is declared a winner and pays for their own meal.

Variations/house rules:

-Starting the game after everyone is seated.

-In the rare event that multiple people flip their phones simultaneously, the bill is split between said players.

– Feel free to invoke penalties/strikes systems.

Notes:

– No touching or messing with anybody else’s phones.

You can explain the game in a few different ways. Most obviously, it could be a protest against the indecent, unthinking use of cell phones during social gatherings. Or maybe it’s a game that acknowledges the new reality and tests your willpower accordingly. Personally, I like to think of it as a free market exercise. After all, people love to say, “Sorry, but I have to take this.” Do you have toanswer it? Really? Is it that important to you? Great, then you can pay.

 

What’s the alternative options if Bit Torrent sites are closed ?

Survival of the fittest is the motto that Human Beings have always lived by. When faced by adversity or restriction, we tend to fight and find solutions that are tailored to the problem as well as solutions that are well sometimes out of the box. Today, the online world especially most of the people who download content from the internet are faced with some serious restrictions to what people can download and share. A wealth of information / data and content is available online but not all of it is copyright, one of the most efficient ways to share this information especially large information like music movies etc was through the very very popular Bit Torrents. Bit torrents have gained popularity over the years and as you would imagine most people use them. But with the introduction of SOPA / PIPA and now ACTA it is getting more and more unlikely that these Bit Torrent sites and clients can move further. But like I said earlier we do come out of problems with innovative solutions. Although I believe that more solutions will present themselves in due course like the Option 2, currently there is a budding solution to our woes.

The truth about piracy is simple, I would download a movie and watch it only if I am not really interested to go see it in the theatre. In fact if torrent downloads were not possible, I would not really go and see it at all ! So in that sense the movie industry does not need to fear torrent downloads per se. The real piracy is the fake DVD’s, CD’s and other activities that happen in the shadow and bringing a few websites down will fuel these activities even more. Demand Supply rule here. If you look at the infographic I posted last week this gets terribly visible. The bad movies made the top 10 list as well as the good ones, the downloading trend will probably affect by pinching away those users who would love to buy and keep copies of movies. Not the real cinema money. Food for thought.

First lets talk about Torrents in general. 

A torrent file is a document containing a number of pieces of information about a file including the names of its various component parts as well as pertinent identifying information. Torrent files do not point to specific files on specific servers but instead point to codes that identify chunks of a file. These files are actually quite large – a few kilobytes to a few hundred – and most BitTorrent feeds have used them exclusively for the past few years.

There’s a problem with torrent files, however, that has to do more with perception than reality. To the average politico – and to the average media lobbyist – Torrent files are “files” that point to pirated content.

Option 1 : Tribler

One of the technologies that builds on the BitTorrents which is going to be more relevant than before is Tribler. The Tribler BitTorrent client is no newcomer to the BitTorrent scene. It has been in development for more than 5 years and has delivered many innovative features, which have mostly been ignored by the masses. Developed by a team of researchers at Delft University of Technology, the main goal is to come up with a robust implementation of BitTorrent that doesn’t rely on central servers. Instead, Tribler is designed to keep BitTorrent alive, even when all torrent search engines, indexes and trackers are pulled offline.

So how does it work?

Like many other BitTorrent clients, Tribler has a search box at the top of the application. However, the search results that appear when users type in a keyword don’t come from a central index. Instead, they come directly from other peers. Downloading a torrent is also totally peer to peer and not from a central location. When a user clicks on one of the search results, the header information or meta date (what exists in the torrent file) is pulled in from another peer and the download starts immediately. Tribler is based on the standard BitTorrent protocol and uses regular BitTorrent trackers to communicate with other peers. But, it can also continue downloading when a central tracker goes down.

Tribler uses crowd-sourcing to keep the network clean. Content is verified by user generated “channels”, which can be “liked” by others. When more people like a channel, the associated torrents get a boost in the search results. All this without a central server, guess what no more shutting down websites, and no more losing downloading opportunities.

It simply can’t be shutdown, blocked or censored, whatever laws politicians may come up with. One thing that could theoretically cause issues, is the capability for starting users to find new peers. To be on the safe side the Tribler team is still looking for people who want to act as so called bootstraptribler peers. These users will act as superpeers, who distribute lists of active downloaders. The only other way to shut it down would be to shut down the internet. Imagine that !

While the Tribler client only has a few thousand users at the moment, for avid file-sharers it must be a relief to know that it’s out there. No matter what crazy laws may pass in the future, people will always be able to share.

Those who want to give it a spin are welcome download Tribler here. It’s completely Open Source and with a version for Windows, Mac and Linux.

Option 2 : 3D Printing

This for a lot of people including the Pirate Bay is the future of downloading. With 3d printers getting more affordable as well as a lot more advanced, the days when 3D artwork of a movie Blue Ray downloaded and printing your own copies of the Blue Ray disks is not far away. This about this as an option, you browse popular 3D sharing websites including ones like Google Sketchup, where some user uploads a 3D image of a DVD with the print of the movie on it, all you need is a 3D printer to make unlimited copies of the movie for you.

This is a bit distant but do not under estimate the importance of something like this, especially when Pirate Bay makes a prediction on these lines.

Option 3 : Other Peer to Peer tools 

The third option would be the one that people that plant viruses and malware love. Back to the age old software like Limewire, iMesh and other clients on desktops that can also help in peer to peer downloads. I think we all know the era when we relied on these and what was the result. COnstant pain of viruses and such.

Regardless the option we choose, the options for the industry to block the downloading would only mean that we will find another means and source, after all we are not the most successful species on the planet without the adversity to adapt.

Wordless Thursday – The most pirated movies of all time

With SOPA, PIPA and now the ugly cousin ACTA, the world is getting ready for a series of laws that are ready to stop our piracy habits and with it freedom of usage f the internet. It will end the era of remixes and such as well if implemented right. So, well ladies and gentlemen before the governments complete the act of putting up the new laws where you will not be able to download anything from the internet without having to pay someone money, please go ahead and download some movies / music or what ever you want. If you need help, here is a link from one of my early posts in how to.

If you are not sure what you want to download and keep or you want to know which movies are the most kept for record, here is this week’d infographic that might help. The most pirated movies of all time. Wordless Thursday is this blog’s attempt of bringing interesting infographics to the eyes of people.

The Best of the Best of 2011 and the prediction for 2012

It’s the end of the year and the beginning of the new year and during this time everyone posts about the best of 2011, the worst of 2011 and so on and so forth, it is also a time when tech companies make their predictions that will change the future and shape our next year. This for sure something that I need to work out for my blog and for the Inquisitive Mind.

Closer to home, this year saw the introduction of Inquisitive Interviews that ran for some time and closed down due to non activity from my side and as a lot of people started to turn down the offers of providing interviews as well. But mostly since I could not provide enough time for the blog. Additionally this year saw me realize a new hobby that I wanted to do for a long time, A Planted Aquarium. You can be rest assured that there are going to be a series of posts about the build (yes I built everything myself) so maybe you can make one yourself as well. On a professional side I managed to take charge of a team for the implementation of the SAS systems at the Airport, making it a very successful year professionally, and in turn the cause of me not finding time to write more often. I have promised myself I will try more and try to make time to write.

The End of the year prompted some home redecoration and the realization of Another Hobby, the Christmas Crib or the Nativity Scene or the Creche. Will share photos and build info for that as well in coming posts. On the front of technology 2011 introduced me to the Blackberry and BBM (a pest) if you can say, and also added the Samsung Tab 10.1 into my gadgetry. My review of that device and what I think of it also is something that is yet to be written at this stage. However back to the topic of this post, apart from managing to get myself into all of these activities and not being able to write about these things, one thing is certain 2011 was a year of action. From the Arab spring to the Jan Lokpal Bill, this year said go out and do it in more ways than one.

Now, to catch up on the best of 2011 and the predictions for 2012 here is my list of articles around the web that you probably should read if you haven’t already. A lot of the articles are from the usual suspects.

The Year that Was

TIME : Top 10 everything of 2011

MIT : Technology Review The Year in Numbers

Photography :: The year in Pictures Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3

Photography :: The best of Kalyan Verma’s Pics of 2011 (I attended a photography course with him)

Technology :: The 10 stories that defined tech in 2011

Technology :: 13 Biggest flops of the year 2011

Technology :: Best Android Games of 2011

Technology :: The year in Tech 2011 – TechCrunch

Lifehacker :: Best of Lifehacker, from Best How to Videos, Photography tips to Mobile Apps.

Predictions

Social Media :: Twitter in 2012

Technology :: Updates for Mobile in 2012

Technology :: 5 Tech trends to watch out in 2012

Medicine :: 6 Big HealthTech Ideas That Will Change Medicine In 2012

China ‘s Century or India’s ?

My list of things to do will include updating the theme of the blog, photo blog and writing more, try to get my hands on the Galaxy Nexus as well. All of you who wants to gift me  please note this now. With that I would again like to wish all the readers of this blog both regular and otherwise a very Happy and prosperous New Year 2012. Hopefully the world will not end J and we get to see more of each other even in 2013.

India Innovation – Android Love from India, including a Siri Clone

Its been a while since I wrote about India and the technological innovation there but here is something that is hard to be missed. Being an Indian and an Android fan it is one of those moments that you will be surely proud of, Apps. Indian Software developers are not the foremost to come up with products, yes there are quite a few there, but in comparison to the number of apps used worldwide the apps from India don’t come to the forefront. Indian Software industry has always played a service role for most companies, where we have developed products for others. Not many products that are home-grown. I guess its changing, and here are the first signs that we can be good at it too.

When Apple introduced Siri, every Android user wanted to hear about the version for Android. And there were few but all lacked complete functionality. An Indian Startup is trying to change all that, from the notion that Indian Software companies dont do products to Siri App for Android. Enter Dexetra, A startup from Cochin that is planning to change the world of Android and India.

Iris 

Like the Siri clone, Iris is a speech recognition and interpretation engine aimed solely at the tech savvy always connected Android user. Like the iPhone 4s the Iris requires the internet to be connected at all times to be able to process the information and spit out the results. With over a Million  installs and with tremendous response from the global Android community this app seems to be the one to see in 2012. Along with the company.

Check out Iris for yourself here on Android Market. Oh yes that’s not it, they also have more software like the Speed Sense and Secure Keys that are as helpful as the Iris You can check them out on their developer page on Android Market. Check out decent App Intro Videos as well for their upcoming Android App, Friday. Does this not look like an international App company now ?? Proud to have crossed paths with these guys.

I just hope that these guys find all the support they need and also move along and produce some brilliant Android Apps. Now waiting for some hackable intelligence of connecting the Arduino with the Iris to get a proper solution to the Voice Activated Home. Dexedra Are you listening ??

Namma Metro – A geek train for a high tech city

Bangalore was the Garden City of India and IS the Silicon valley of India now. Yes, there will be some debate over this statement, but Bangalore is and always will be for me the IT hub or IT Capital of India. So when a new Metro started operation in the city it had to keep up with that image. Having used the Metro in Dubai, I was not very impressed with having the Metro manned with a driver, as opposed to the metro in Dubai which is completely automatic. But thinking as a project Manager I realized that the Capex of introducing an unmanned system was far greater than having the Opex of a Manned system, and in India there is no shortage of labor or rather inexpensive labor so it made sense.

So without having a train that was automatic, it would have to be impressive in terms of technology for me to be able to be impressed with it. On my last trip to India, I did go and see the train in Bangalore, the coach placed at MG Road was a non working display sample but still did not fail to impress. I did a bit of research on the technology used on Namma Metro and I was pleasantly surprised. Here are some things I found out :

The track system

The Bangalore Metro is standard gauge, a system used by most metros worldwide. Narrower than the broad gauge, it allows for greater manoeuvrability, easy ride along curves, laying of tracks even on narrow stretches and control. The standard gauge has a track width of 4ft, 8.5inches, or 1,435mm, while the Indian broad gauge is 5ft, 6inches, or 1,676mm.

Bangalore Metro runs on the ballastless track system used by 70% of the world’s metros. In layman’s language, this means the track does not require stones used on traditional broad gauge track systems to build the track and run the train, as the load is lower than that of a conventional train. The tracks are laid on a concrete slab after assessing the engineering factors. Stones on the conventional track help in balanced construction, while in metro systems concrete slabs are enough.

The Rolling Stock (Coaches)

The rolling stock (coaches/cars) are three stainless steel-bodied wagons. The train will be under the driver’s control, but they are equipped with some Automatic Controls to assist the driver. The seating capacity per train is approximately 1,000, giving more floor area to standing passengers.


The coaches are manufactured by Hyundai Rotem Korea and Mitsubishi Electric Company. BEML has the licence to manufacture the coaches in Bangalore. While Mitsubishi supplied the traction for the coaches, Hyundai Rotem supplied the rolling stock and BEML the coaches.

Power in Third Rail

Electricity for the train will run on a third rail next to the main track. It has an opening at the bottom at certain points from where the train draws its power. The third rail is covered with a yellow shroud, and a person falling on the track won’t be electrocuted. ABB designed, supplied, installed and commissioned four substations to receive and distribute electricity at 66/33 kV, as well as auxiliary and traction substations. ABB will also provide an integrated network management, or SCADA (Supervisory Control And Data Acquisition) system to monitor and control the installations.

Consumer tech in the Coaches

Apart from the technology of the trains themselves, of course something that will not be very visible the trains feature a host of features that are visible and form an important part of the coaches. Guess here are some of the interesting consumer or close to consumer technologies in the metro.

Wi-Fi : Ironically the first thing I am listing is not visible at all, but is increasingly becoming one of the basic requirements especially in a city like Bangalore. Passengers can use their laptops, tablets and the mobile internet to be connected while on transit.

Emergency Voice Comms : Passengers will have emergency voice communication with train staff through a speaker system. Passengers can press a call button to communicate anything urgent to the driver or control centre. Help will be at hand at the next station. The integrated control centre will have direct communication with trains and stations which will be CCTV-fitted with visual and audio service information.

Collision Detection : Bangalore Metro also has automatic train supervision, protection and operation systems — if there’s a train on the same track ahead, the approaching train will sense it and come to a halt at a safe distance.

CCTV Monitoring : Cameras will be installed inside the train as well as stations, and people’s movements will be monitored by an operations control centre at Byappanahalli. In case of any help or emergency, the control room will be able to see what went wrong.

Ticketing : Ticketing, too, is completely automated with just a swipe of the ticket, token or card at a particular point near the entry and exit, enabling the gates to open and close. Recharge of metro cards through mobiles and SMS, a first in the world. What I am waiting for Google India to introduce the features of Google Wallet into the Metro, it will be really interesting. Are you listening Google?

Inquisitive Guide – The “new” Facebook : Everything you need to know

Yes, our semi favorite Social Network has changed … again. The fact of the matter is whether we like it or not, the changes are here for a while, until they change are going to change once more. There have been more negative reviews to the redesign than positive ones, the fact of the matter is no matter how much we complain, it is still a free product that we are NOT compelled to use, but we all use during our everyday life. After desperately trying to add in all the features that were unique in the rival social networks like the subscribe feature making the twitter’s main feature available on Facebook and the lists redefined to behave more like Google Circles; Facebook threw their biggest gamble yet. A complete redesign from the profile to the user page.

Yes I liked the previous Facebook better, but I guess we all need to adapt into the new one; so what if I thought someone had a Blue Drink and barfed all over the screen. So I thought I will post some of the most important features of the “new” redesigned Facebook. Some that might need to be known to all. Sigh, I liked Social Networking sites when you did not need a manual to use them. Some humor about the changes first here below.

Changes to the News Feed including the Ticker

This is one of the most noticeable new changes on the new Facebook. Facebook’s new design highlights posts that you’ll likely find important (well what they think you will find important), and prioritizes them at the top of your feed when you log in. The top stories are designated by a blue tag in the upper left corner of the post. Knowing so much about you it might be easier for them to actually “guess” this through their algorithms. Keeping the page open for a while, I did notice that it did not change much if you leave it open.

If you have used Twitter you will know that new tweets are displayed at the top and Facebook has a similar feature for their new recent stories. The ticker in the right is interesting and annoying. This is the place where real time information will be put up. It will always be there and also auto attach to the chat window as well.

Photo Albums

It has been known for a while by all that the largest database of pictures on the Internet is with Facebook. From Albums that people add to Facebook Apps that create its own set of images (for some reason are very popular on Indian Profiles) the entire Facebook is full of pictures. Using the previous theater mode, people who had complaints realized that the way pictures are displayed is now changed. Google Plus users will immediately pick the copy cat. However, the images are provided with good area for commenting and viewing in a theater like view as well.

The Like Button is no more just that

The Like button is one of the social legends of our time. Nearly everyone trying to come up with an equivalent. Google even got the +1 as a competitor, but guess what, like everything else Facebook is going to fix the like button although its not broken. Now you will not only like, but the most requested Dislike will come up as well along with any verb that people can think of. So well with the new redesign developers can come up with their own verb like, “Inquire”, Broke, and stuff. This is an evolutionary step for the like button, lets just hope it does not evolve into extinction. Facebook’s most used feature might just become diluted in the crowd.

Media is coming to Facebook… Big time

When a good friend of mine mentioned a while back, that he is now used to picking up news and interesting information on Facebook first before checking up on it on other sites, I realized that Facebook’s sharing feature had grown BIG. I cannot imaging the last time I searched the web for new trailers, all friends put up something interesting inevitably.

Facebook I guess realized the same thing and has made it possible to now watch TV and movies, listen to music, and read news with your friends — all within Facebook. Starting today, thanks to a whole bunch of partnerships, there are a lot more things you can do without ever having to leave Facebook. You can watch a show on Hulu, listen to a song on Spotify, or check out a story on Yahoo News. The ticker will tell you what your friends are watching, listening to or reading, allowing you to share the experience with them by clicking on a link. Although the video and songs are now US centric, they are going to spread around the world soon.

Now to the two most dangerous and ones you really need to watch out for.

Apps posting information about you

Applications on Facebook used to ask your permission before posting anything on Facebook. Now they dont need to. If you are worried about privacy you need to ensure that you are clear about what Apps you choose and what you dont, cos once an application has access to your profile it can post and access information when ever it wants.

With this move Facebook is slowly trying to kill one of its biggest problems Privacy. How ? Well this is the first step to removing privacy completely. Eventually all information about you will be available freely with your knowledge and you will be OK with it, thats what Facebook is trying to suggest, this could be the very first step in that direction.

But for those worried about privacy, this is something you need to go back and check, all the applications you use and what information they can access and what sites you have logged in using your Facebook Id and what they can do with that information is all something that we need to worry about for the time being.

The TimeLine instead of the Facebook Profile 

In what is the biggest of the changes to Facebook, the entire provide of a person is now going to change into a Digital scrapbook for all of us. With all information we ever put up being physically available to anyone viewing your timeline. Although the feature is going to go live only by the October 1st, I got a preview of the feature and my timeline is available now. Here is how it looks.

You can now add a lot more “life events” on your profile, a new banner picture as well. Maps on the profile all in the name of making a complete Timeline. So much so that you will be asked to provide your birth photo as well. I am sure we are going to see quite a few baby photos soon. Timeline is going to reveal everything you wanted to forget and regret about posting on Facebook ever ! And it will tell your friends about it too, if they have time to stalk on you. The further back in Timeline you go, the more Facebook will compress the information so that you’re only seeing the most interesting parts of your history. You can customize this by clicking on a star next to a status, say, or enlarging a picture.

If you would really want to get your own timeline right now, try some of these steps mentioned here.

Probably the most riskiest decisions ever, this redesign might have the impact of driving its users to other sites like Google Plus. And with Diaspora now opening windows to new users, there could be very soon fragmenting of these social networks.

Wordless Thursday – How Dangerous is your house ?

How Dangerous Is Your House? is a new infographic from Ecomom.com, and designed by Column Five Media.  I love the content in this one!  This has way too much text than usual infographics. Some more visualizations would definitely help. Most readers will skim or skip over most of the text explanations. The interesting bit of the infographic is how many things in our house can actually hurt us.

For the new readers, Wordless Thursday is this blogs attempt to bring in interesting and inquisitive infographics to the front like the one below.