Mobile Number Portability a great Idea !

Hey, not that I have many options to shift mobile phone network providers, UAE, has a sort of semi monopoly in the Mobile Phone providers market. You can choose between Etisalat and Du and thats about it. But in India with 17 providers, the number of  options you have on selecting networks is unbelievable. It makes sense for the operators to have a common platform for the users to pick out of (Obviously they are running out of numbers to give out to customers).

So after a lot of deliberation, discussions and decisions, Mobile Number Portability is now live and for us to use. When I say its live, its gonna be live from 20th January 2010. The major mobile phone operators are advertising this feature really a lot. Some of the ads that impressed are here

So well how do you go about doing the change, here it is, It costs Rs 19 for the change anyway:

So are you interested to make the change ? Let us know

Worlds Most Expensive Home completed – In India

Costing over $1 Billion the Ambani Residence has now completed and is now open. There is one part of me that is really proud that the Most expensive home in the world is built in India, but on the other hand I am also appalled at it. The Antilia is the product of a partnership between architecture firms Perkins+Will and Hirsch Bedner Associates. The building, which has taken nearly three years to complete, hosts 27-stories, which are far from modest. The tower would in fact hold 60-stories, had Ambani settled for standard-height ceilings, rather than opting for an exceptionally high floor-to-ceiling program. The building currently stands on Mumbai’s Altamount Road – prime real estate in the dense metropolis – towering over surrounding structures less than half its size.

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The home contains a health club with a gym and dance studio, a swimming pool, a ballroom, guestrooms, a variety of lounges, and a 50-seater cinema. Three helicopter pads have been installed on the roof, and a car park for 160 vehicles sits on the ground floor. Clearly more space than a housekeeper, or full hotel staff can handle, the Ambani family has employed a staff of 600 to tend to the home!

When I looked at the home and its Carbon Footprint I was surprised at the claim that it was one of the greenest homes ever built. Antilia initially marketed itself as one of the greenest buildings to in the world, not surprisingly, the singular green element first portrayed in the initial renderings is far from evident. The image once depicting a structure covered in green foliage, has in fact been replaced by a vision of stark steel geometry stacked up towards the sky. Experts are saying that no other private property of comparable size and prominence exists anywhere in the world.

So then I started looking at another way to hate it, thinking about how in a country filled with poverty and homelessness this is one monstrosity that stands 27 floors for a family of 5, Mukesh Ambani, his wife and 3 kids. But isint it something that we Indians are known for, when another person achieves something that is matter of dreams instead of looking up to the achievement, we look at various reasons why we would not like it.

At the end of the day, the home is now built and it signifies more than the poor India from the Slumdog Millionaire, It shows the world that the ‘Sleeping Tiger’ is now waking Up. It is ready to show the world that we have now a bigger, better thing than even the arabs lol … :)

Formula Rossa in Abu Dhabi opening on 28th Oct

A lot of the readers here will know how inquisitively I wrote about the Ferrari Roller Coaster in the World’s One and Only new Theme Park in Abu Dhabi. First of all I was sad considering that I am working in the construction industry in Dubai and that I did not get a chance to be a part of this amazing theme park in Abu Dhabi. In fact having worked on Dubai International Airport expansion of Terminal 3 and the Burj Dubai I would have loved to be part of this one as well.

Knowing that I will be able to visit it, and its still within traveling reach by car is still good enough for me I guess. Personally I have not been to the amazing Roller Coasters that they keep showing on Discovery Channel, but always wanted to. Having said that I have always wanted to go there.

Have a look at what might be in store at the Ferrari Theme Park, opening just before the F1 race in ABu Dhabi, I guess people have more than just 1 incentive to go and visit the Ferrari Theme park. Anyway let us know whats the most interesting one of these that you want to absolutely go to.

Continue reading Formula Rossa in Abu Dhabi opening on 28th Oct

The future gadgets for DJ’s is here – from YouTube DJ to Gadgets

Last weekend I was at a party at Ajman, where a Ryan, a friend was the DJ and me was telling how the laptops have made DJing so much more fun. Instead of carrying a case full of CD’s like earlier DJ friends used to now he just need to ensure that the laptop is working and powered. This would usually mean that he has more than his collection of music for the parties he goes to. DJ’s these days have so many tools available on the laptops to enable to perform complex tasks they used to perform with analog machines a while back, except it used to be more difficult earlier. Now the focus seems to be on making the music better than worry about the technicalities.

Ryan also mentioned how improvements are happening all the time, and as promised he also shared the link of an awesome DJ video showing the Emulator for the DJ kits. I am sharing the video below, that was shared by Ryan. Anyway, moving from the video showing the ultracool touch screen DJ, I thought it would be worth while to look at other possible developments in this field, now with the Weekend here you might just spot some of these on your weekend clubbing spree.

The List of things that I am putting up is going to be some hardware, geek food, and also some software to try and convert you into a YouTube DJ. First things first, some YouTube videos of awesome fuuristic DJ equipment:

A little more scouting on Google shopping leads more results as well, check it here. After the gadgets now, here is the turn to get your self prepared into a YouTube DJ. Well not always is it convenient to carry all your kit around and at those times it might be awesome if the entire collection of music be available to you at any time. The internet is the biggest storage for music and imagine if you could DJ with that collection, and by becoming a YouTube DJ you could do just that.

StreamDrag

StreamDrag allows you to create playlists of music that is available on YouTube.

You don’t have to register for an account to use the site, but the advantage of signing up for a free account is being able to save multiple playlists. Search for your favorite songs and add them to your playlist. Once you’ve got your playlist up and running, you can share specific songs with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, StumbleUpon and Delicious.

MuzakBox

MuzakBox takes a simpler approach by essentially creating the playlist for you. You choose the artist you want to listen to and MuzakBox does the rest – pulling all of the songs from YouTube into one list. Of course if you’re the kind of person who gets bored listening to one artist for too long, MuzakBox isn’t the ideal choice for you.

YouTube Music Player addon

Firefox users can benefit from the YouTube Music Player Addon. Once installed, a new menu item will be available in your browser where you can access all of the YouTube Music Player controls, from searching, to add songs to your playlist, to playing them. Accessing these controls opens up the addon in a sidebar in your browser. Search for songs and add them by right-clicking the results.

Once a song has been added to your playlist it is highlighted in red. YouTube Music Player is jam-packed with features, allowing you to create and save multiple lists, preview videos before adding them to your list by hovering over the specific search result, and giving you full control of playback with shuffle and repeat settings. Playback settings can be accessed from the Firefox menu, from the status bar, or from the small window that opens displaying the video itself.

YouTube jockey

YouTube Jockey is a slick Adobe Air app which allows you to create one playlist at a time. Search for and add songs to your playlist, and then you can choose whether or not to display the video as it plays. Don’t worry – there is nothing you have to do to save your playlist – it will automatically be saved for you to return to when you open the app. While it’s great to have a cross-platform desktop app that allows you to easily create YouTube, being able to create and save multiple playlists would make it even better.

Save the Tiger – Augmented Reality Campaign

One of the most fascinating and magnificent cats of all of the animal kingdom is the Tiger. However, we all know that this beautiful beast is on the verge of getting pushed into the extremely endangered species list. Tigers world wide are facing precarious conditions when it come to basic survival. In this effect it was quite apt when NDTV and Aircel in India launched an awesome campaign to try and save the tiger. We have gone down to only 1411 tigers in the country and no amount of campaigns and public support is enough to bring this species back.

What was even more saddening was a friend of mine had an opportunity to visit a home of someone high up the social ladder in UAE; the person was also a UAE national who had immense wealth.  Interestingly, the person had along with his collection of gazillion expensive cars, and other collectibles; Indian Tigers, both white and the normal ones, a few lions, some hippos and even some alligators. My first reaction was this is depressing, then I thought that they are at least keeping these beasts safe. My next reaction was also that of depression thinking what has the world come to, if tigers need to be caged in other countries to keep them safe from us. Not to mention that its really utterly and completely wrong.

I started looking at the campaigns of “Save the Tiger” and although there has been a lot of progress with a lot of people signing up to getting up  and doing something for the campaign, it was imperative that the feeling of loosing these tigers be bought to the foreground. They worked on amazing commercials which were aired on TV, but still had that one element missing. The efforts need to be absolutely increased, these ads are just not enough. Have a look at some of them here below :

So after the campaign in India, I thought it might be worthwhile checking out the other efforts. And I stumbled on the second campaign this time with the cousin of the Indian Tiger, the Siberian Tiger. The campaign of the Siberian Tiger went to technology to be able to achieve the punch factor in the campaigns, not only have they made the campaign interesting but also really powerful, with the power of guerrilla marketing. And we all know how good the guerrilla marketing techniques work.

Trying to make a point, the WWF Tiger T-Shirt shows what it is to be hunted down by poachers like the Siberian tiger. Incredibly graphic, it relies on an augmented reality to show you what it would be like to be shot. Reaching to Augmented Reality to achieve the effect, the campaigners provided T-Shirts to a lot of people which triggerd a shooting animation (complete with blood) when worn in front of a special mirror.  The campaign was launched with collaboration of WWF and Lookatme.ru. Check out the website at lookatme.ru/tiger.

I think we need to start looking at bringing this campaign to India.

New Phone Concept from the guys who bought us FireFox

There have been very few things that made a stir on the internet like when the Mozilla Firefox vs IE battle was on, Being a big fan of the browser and the concept of crowd sourcing and crowd coding for the beauty of the browser called Firefox, the Mozilla Labs have started a unique open platform for ideas sharing which is providing designers from various fields a point where they can share concepts etc.

And what if they build a concept phone ? The world should take notice, and I think they are. There are a few interesting features of the Mozilla Concept phone that will make its way into blogs and discussions all over. Firstly, the phone is running Android ! Now if that is not cool enough, there are loads of hardware features that are well, waiting to jump into your next smart phone. This is what the Mozilla website has to say

In response to our open call Billy May, in early 2009, produced a throw-away concept for an“Open Web Concept Phone”. Working directly off of that community feedback, Billy has since finished the exploration with his concept “Seabird”.

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Concept Overview :

The Mozilla Seabird, part of the Mozilla Labs’ Concept Series, is an experiment in how users might interact with their mobile content as devices and technology advances. Drawing on insights culled from the Mozilla community through the project’s blog, a focus quickly developed around frustrating physical interactions. While mobile CPUs, connectivity and development platforms begin approaching that of desktops, the lagging ability to efficiently input information has grown ever more pronounced.

Interaction

The Seabird, then, introduces a few possibilities into how user interaction might evolve with the advancing motion capture and projector driven innovation in the market. First out, the Seabird imagines how a multiple use dongle might augment the crowded gestural interface with greater precision and direct manipulation of content in 3D space.

Pico Projector

With mobile phone companies such as Samsung, LG and Motorola moving towards display applications for projectors, the technology remains open for expanding user interaction and input at the same time. The Seabird, on just a flat surface, enables netbook-quality interaction by working with the projector’s angular distortion to deliver interface, rather than content. With the benefit of a dock, each projector works independently and delivers laptop levels of efficiency.

Design

The form development took its cues from various aerodynamic, avian and decidedly feminine forms. Its erect posture intends a sense of poise while its supine conformity to the hand reconciles that with the user’s desire for digital control. The curvature of the back also serves a functional role in elevating the projector lens elements when lying flat.

Finally a Concept Video

Even in 3D

Check out the Project Page  here : http://mozillalabs.com/conceptseries/2010/09/23/seabird/

The Art and Science of Photography

I mentioned last week that I was heading to Bangalore to attend a photography workshop and I just did, the past few days have been an exhilarating experience when it comes to learning. The workshop that I attended was aptly called the Art and Science of Photography, teaching to use the device in hand to manipulate light in such a way, that the image produced by it would be stunning. Aperture, Shutter Speed, ISO, Exposure Compensation, and many other parameters that make up an image, forming the science of the photograph and the composition and story making the art part of the image. The workshop which was conducted by Kalyan Varma, who I believe is India’s best wild life photographer, was something f a revelation. From learning about the different components used to capture light to make brilliant photographs, to photo processing techniques used by early photographers using film cameras. Real eye opener.

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Photography has long been associated as an art form, and the DSLR’s have made it more of a gizmo that provides geek food. I would attribute the new SLR revolution to the Geekified image of the new SLR camera. And being a gadget the focus has shifted to photography as an art form but also as a small stream of science. The Science of manipulating light and producing mind boggling images. But like everything else these days, I think we as photographers are really getting carried away with the electronics and the gadgets. Good equipment does not always mean good photographs, however good photographer even with a crappy camera can take amazing photographs, if you search for Mobile Camera Photography you will know what I mean. Getting back to the topic of Gadgets and Photography. Here are some excellent examples of cameras ads that have aired over the years (the Polaroid one is the best), notice something similar… all of them try to convey the same message to the photographer, that the new camera is compact and light weight to take good pictures 😉

At the end of the day Photography is all about the photographer and his keep eye to freeze a moment to make a good photograph. This was one of the most important things I learnt at the workshop, having a great camera just helps the process. I am going to be posting images from my Photography workshop on my photo blog (http://photo.melvinpereira.com) soon.

India Report Card for Technology 2010

First things first, A very Happy Independence Day to all the Indians, and to our neighbors Pakistan as well. It’s the Independence Day today, and really all the focus seems to be in all the wrong areas, like every year, the media is picking up the bad in the country to highlight on this day. From Terrorism, corruption, Maoists, Bandhs, CWG Vs Food, Bollywood, IPL Scandals, Babus, all the flaws of India are being highlighted. I am sure as a child, if you were to point out his/her faults on his/her birthday, I am sure the child would not be really happy, and would be damaged for life. Then why is it that we are doing it to our country  ?? Anyway, for this Independence Day, like the Republic Day in January, I would like to prepare a report card for the technology sector in the country. Of course it is the most shining one and the one sector where it does look India is shining and moving ahead.

First of all If you did not manage to read the report card during the Republic Day, here are the links :

Continue reading India Report Card for Technology 2010

Facebook wants to know YOUR story ?

As of Wednesday, 21st July 2010, Facebook has reached a number of 500 Million active visitors registered and using Facebook. That is 500,000,000 people. There are more zero’s here than alphabets in my name. To give you an idea of how many people are using Facebook, picture this, the world is inhabited by 6,200,000,000 people and it is largely accepted that about 1/6th the population of the world has internet access. So nearly half of all people who have internet access are on Facebook. Or one in 2 people using the internet are on Facebook. It might not seem the case to us, since nearly everyone we know these days are on FB as it is called with love.

And with so many people being on Facebook and trying to share their moments, it is clear that some people share more than what is required (See – mistakes on Facebook that you would regret ) and not follow any precaution with their sharing (See – Facebook : Beware, we have to be careful, 10 Rules of using Facebook ) but the strength of Facebook is the power of the people in numbers. It gives all of us an easy way to publish our thoughts and lives to our friends. This Social Media is something that has been shown to have tangible benefits, through various experiences that Facebook users experience.

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The magic of Projection Mapping at the Jai Ho Concert

One of the first Oscars for the Country came to A.R Rahman, and it was more than welcomed by the people of India, more ironically his millions of fans and followers in India did not get a chance to see his masterpiece concert “Jai Ho : The Journey Home World tour” which was on in the US, until there was a problem when a part of the set collapsed damaging the kit. But the question to ask is this, what set was broken and could not be repaired to such an extent that the show was completely put off until the rig is fixed ? Well its the awesome new world of projection mapping.

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