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October 2006 Archives

October 3, 2006

India Observations Part 1- Camera Phones

So you have a camera phone and you don't use it.... you are western and probably had access to camera for years. For most of your life you have been recorded, snapped, super8ed, videoed etc. There's societal rules about cameras and implied rules about camera phones. Your conclusions may be all wrong.


Now imagine a world where no one growing up had a camera. Where photos were taken at a wedding, relegated to studio shots for the rich, or Bollywood snaps appearing in the press. In a gross generalization, photography in India was 50 or 60 years behind the rest of the world until the mobile phone arrived. My initial observations.


Village: Last April I was taken by Dina on a research visit to a small village in Alwar where I took many pictures and was entertained by village elders for lunch. One of their proudest family possessions was a simple album of their daughter's wedding. The pictures had been taken by an English visitor who just happened to be visiting the hotel where the event was held. In the same small one room house I played back a camera phone video I shot of the wife cooking chapattis for us, to two of her children. They were both about 7 or 8. They really didn't even comprehend what it was. It was magic. Yet in a few years they are certain to have phones. Those phones will have cameras.

The Coffee Bar: Sitting in a coffee shop. Yes the Starbucks equivalents are in India. From Cafe CoffeeDay to Barista the youth today have a new and, by Indian standards (say 75 cents for an expresso), still very expensive emerging coffee habit. Each time I frequent one I'm always seeing people taking pictures. They pass the phone around. They take them with each other's phones. They display a real delight of just discovering photography and they just keep on snapping.

Camera phones will impact society differently here. There was no progression from a camera. The mobile phone for many, is their first camera. They never learned to shoot with film or the constraints and expense of film. They never looked through a viewfinder. Photography for them starts on a device that is better at shorter distances. They are learning photography in a digital age. As a result India is about to experience an outpouring of imagery.


Flickr and Bubbleshare beware. Camera phones are changing the way India tells stories and records her history. For the most part, pictures remain trapped on the phones. The solutions will come out of India or China. The volume or will that be a flood of imagery and video may simply flood our senses. As the people tell the story society will be forced to make additional changes. The camera phone represents a growing power here.

Lastly, Nokia owns India. It's is their market to make or break. They lead with camera phones. In India you see they are really on to something.

October 4, 2006

Missed Call 'Saab'? - India Outs Voice Mail

I've had many a hairy ride in auto rickshaws. These three wheel contraptions squeeze in and out.. have no lane sense ... and now have a new angle on how to make and save money with their cheap cell phones and missed calls. Early on I went out and got myself a prepaid Hutch card. A friendly driver taking me around Delhi explained the missed call. When you come back out of the store... ring me twice... .and I'll come and pick you up. This extends everywhere in the transport sector. Send a couple of rings and the drivers come running. They would take the call (for the most part they don't understand me so what's the point) as it is no cost to them. The counter is, those short missed calls often signal that the driver is arriving.

So in India we have cheap phones, recharges for less than a dollar and the missed call leverages the whole system. It seems India lives very effectively without voice mail as the default. This really is a stark contrast to the US.

My mobile experience is really very much like the majority of Indians. I may put a little more money on my prepaid card. Still the basic feature set... it does SMS and makes calls is the same. It does not do voice mail. Voice Mail is not a default here. In fact the learning I have is just forget about voice mail. If you can't get through and need to leave a message then send an SMS. Frankly it is much more useful. It provides context, it is a quick read and importantly it doesn't cost you minutes to retrieve the message which too often is long and garbled.

Lesson for America's tortured mobile system. Charging for receiving SMS's make that whole system counterproductive and often costs the receiver real bucks unless they have an SMS plan . Voice Mail, simply costs minutes to retrieve and is really less efficient. As I've noted before voice mail is a failure case. The caller failed to connect. As a T-Mobile USA user I'd happily turn my Voice Mail off based on my Indian experience. I don't think that's possible.

I think America is suffering from a legacy approach. Imagine you are in a meeting. What's the point of a voice mail when you could have answered quickly with a text message. One interruption you could handle the other you could not. Of course thousands of Americans have worked this out. They use their Blackberries and Treo's for e-mail messaging. The messaging happens in real time amongst their intimate circle. Yet that is still an exclusive club.

India is bypassing voice mail. I'm sure they will adopt rapidly certain forms of PTT (push to talk) and voice messaging. However, their learning and adoption of the text message rather than long voice mails is a blessing for longer term communications development.

India Observations - Cultural Treasures

Guy Kawasaki describes a few days visit to Mumbai as a "mind-expanding experience". He has a fun set of initial insights. As I read them I felt my first experiences all over again. Still some six months later that's just scratching the surface. India and Mumbai (I still prefer Bombay --- as do many that live there!) in particular assaults the senses. If you don't believe me read Suketu Mehta's book Maximum City and listen to this intro from Poptech on ITConversations.

Rather than dwell on the initial impact I appreciate the "history" that is here. While I received one version of a history lesson at the Swaminarayan sect's Akshardham in New Delhi (the Indian's invented everything!) in a religious Disneyland (no offense meant although it is ostentatious and some would say obscene) it's quickly clear that India has a rich history. It's an important aspect in a culture. It's something I miss in the US and never found down under. History there for the most part goes back a couple of generations and lacks any real historical artifacts. By contrast in Europe you have medieval cities everywhere. History frames behaviors and understanding.

This is a country you could spend months wandering from tomb to palace. The pressure of progress may ignore some of the fantastic treasures that exist in India. Caste systems still exist in villages, and life with all its contrasts has perhaps only really changed dramatically for 20% of the population and that too only in the last few years.

I hope Indians turn and preserve their history while on their mad dash to the promise of capitalism. The sheer number of people here make this a daily challenge. I live in Gurgaon a city that didn't exist five years ago. It's now a tech center and booming. They are building the new Indian palace here. It's also another post.

October 5, 2006

Mobility & Wi-Fi on Nokia's N80, N91 & E61

There's finally a new meme linking mobile, VoIP and Wi-Fi. These posts are are just the beginning. See Jim Courtney who wraps up a collection of posts. This meme is something I've believed was coming and known instantly from the first day I put the Nokia N91 and N80 in my hand. Both these handsets have Wi-Fi. They change immediately how you think about using your mobile.

Example 1. I've been testing Shozu Preview 2.0. Shozu was already a great program for one-click photo uploads to sites like Flickr. In 2.0 mode Shozu is demonstrating an RSS like subscription model for Vlogs and Photo content. I get Rocketboom updates daily to my N80. I don't pay a dime or even a cent for data while travelling in India. It's set to synch everytime I enter my friendly Indian office Wi-Fi zone. At home I switch to my home network. Now I'd like YouTube direct... I'll watch it in the back of the car on the way home.

Example 2. My son synchs his email on an N91 while on campus. He doesn't have a data plan. Similarly he can upload picture to flickr or blog via LifeBlog or use other services this way. You should have heard his positive response to a link sharing Fring last week. While the programs are currently lacking the Mylo-ed handset represents a real bonus for college students on "hot" campuses.


Example 3. See this instruction for putting your SIP connection on an E62. Now VoIP on Symbian mobile. I still have to work this out for the N80 with my Sipphone account. Anyone know how?

Most of us don't need expensive data plans to add significant utility to the phone.. At work and home provide lots of opportunity for mobile devices enhanced with Wi-Fi. My guess is the data plan becomes more valuable when you've been training yourself to run all your data and event notifications via your mobile. Wi-Fi experimentation is a next step in mobile progress without expensive new commitments to mobile operators. It's just a more expensive phone.

Other than Agile Messenger I still have yet to see a really good mobile chat client. None of the majors AIM, Yahoo, Google etc appear to have anything. Skype doesn't appear to have a step by step mobile strategy. They could have executed on a chat client years ago on Symbian. I'd think they could also execute on a Wi-Fi functioning Voice client.

Nokia N80 - Mobile TV - Radio

Here I am in India with 50+ cable channels to watch and just like home there's nothing much worth seeing. With no "fast broadband" connection at home I can forget Slingbox for now. So how do I cope? Simple. I bring the small amount of TV with me.

At home the Tivo records the programs I want to watch. Tivo then passes them over to my home PC via TivoToGo (extra cost software) and they are all converted into Quicktime movies. Before leaving home I simply burn one or two DVD's with last month's content. Simple. I can watch it via iTunes or even on my Nokia N80.

The latter really intrigued me. How would I find TV watching on the small screen of a mobile phone. After all it is even smaller than the Video iPod. Actually, it's very impressive. It's not big screen big, however the clarity and general watch-ability are just fine. I have a one GB memory card in the N80. Thus it will take a three hour movie or 3 hourly installments of House and still leave room for photography. It's really more fiction than pleasure, however with a few changes I'd get a real kick out of what I could do. Still I know I am not alone. The first thing my son did with the N91 was upload Family Guy segments (I'll blog his initial thoughts separately). Videos were more use to him (more impressive and entertaining) than filling it with music.

So where is YouTube  for my Nokia with best of the day, perhaps the latest IT conversations. In this way the N80 really has something over the iPod Video. I don't synch my iPod daily. Too much hassle. I synch it before trips generally to get a selective list of Podcast updates. I then listen on the plane.

By contrast the N80 with Wi-Fi can capture this without access or docking with a computer. When I can get a 4GB card for it I'll add it. When would I look? Standing in lines, waiting for lunch, going home in the back of the car? So I'm convinced. I want an iPodder for it and I want it to auto schedule downloads over Wi-Fi.

October 6, 2006

Naked Skype - Beneath the Sheets

Alec Saunders is quick to post a Skype change in 2.6 beta that I along with developers have lusted for. I know just how to put it to use. Alec says Skype Naked. On it's own it may not be enough to sway developer support. However, there's more coming.

One of the most requested developer features for Skype is now part of the Skype 2.6 beta.  Called “Silent Mode” it allows you to switch off the visible Skype UI within your application.  It’s the first indication that Skype will allow developers to separate the UI from the engine, and deliver what Peeter Mõtsküla  referred to last April as Naked Skype. Alec Saunders

I plan on putting it to use. Thanks Skype for listening!


October 8, 2006

Lawyers and Identity

Paul Madsen up in Ottawa, posts the following exchange between lawyers over identity. My apologies Paul for re-posting in its entirety. It's just like those funny e-mails, a portion would kill the fun. Take a look at his blog. Now also in my newsreader!


Lawyers would love to be this involved in every identity exchange.

Lawyer 1: My client is willing to provide first name.
Lawyer 2: C'mon, that would be like milking the horse before the cow, my client absolutely needs email address.
Lawyer 1: What if we threw in postal code?
Lawyer 2: For home address? or shipping address?
Lawyer 1: My client would be willing to give both if you got rid of the ridiculous request for their sexual preference.
Lawyer 2: It's not ridiculous, my client needs that information before deciding whether or not to proceed with this relationship.
Lawyer 1: C'mon, we're in a gay bar, get it from the context!
Lawyer 2: Ok, ok, we can bend on this. But not on email address - that's a must have.
Lawyer 1: (after whispering with client) Ok, here you go.
Lawyer 2: What the &$%@# is this? I said we wanted an email address!
Lawyer 1: It's a URI. It's like an email address but protects my client's privacy. Your client would go that web page and leave a message.
Lawyer 2: Where did you learn your law? I didn't say we wanted something 'like' an email address. I said we needed 'an' email address. Jeez, go read PIPEDA before wasting our time like this (packing up papers).
Lawyer 1: C'mon, sit down and relax. My client will provide her real address on the condition that it not be shared with anybody else and thrown away after a week (whispering with client) Oh, wait, clarification, not shared with anybody ugly.
Lawyer 2: (after whispering with client) Would writing it on the bathroom wall be considered acceptable usage?
Lawyer 1: (more whispering) My client says yes, but only in a small font.

ConnectID: Consenting Lawyers


October 11, 2006

POTUS - George - No Strategy for WMD

I'm listening to CNN in to a live broadcast of George Bush in a Press Conference at the White House. I don't normally blog politics. I had something completely different in mind to blog tonight. However, I'm sitting in India, it's 9:20pm and this man is completely incoherent. He repeats himself and doesn't answer the questions. There is 1) a complete idiot in control of the asylum in Washington, and 2) why his handlers let him loose is beyond my comprehension. The language used can't possibly be understood by non-english speakers. He's got a FOG index that ranks with lost. It's all over the place. Sad this POTUS.

I think I missed the first 20 or thirty minutes; maybe the good soundbites were in that. Still, I was simply horrified a minute ago with his comments on North Korea, and the poor way he put the case for a diplomatic solution. Seeing I can't understand him, how can any foreign nation. No wonder America is so alone in the world. The conversation rambles and then turns back with another reporter asking Korea questions again. POTUS says he is not willing to live with a nuclear North Korea. Then says we must try diplomatic solutions first. "The goal is no nuclear weapons." "Diplomacy is a difficult process... because not eveyones interests are the same..." My read. There's no US teeth on or for North Korea. The US will do nothing unless North Korea mobilizes towards South Korea. It's the same thing for Iran. Iran will now accelerate their test program. Bush has made the world more unsettled and destabilized another quarter. If Iran sets it off before the election then lets hope American's know where to place the blame.

Now we are talking about fencing. Actually border control and the new fence with Mexico. Finally a topic he understands... and is relaxed about. Must be the rancher in him. Too bad it is also stupid. Somehow he ties it back to security. It's a whole different issue all together. Still the shame is this is the first topic he seems to be comfortable with. Just reinforces that he doesn't have a clue about the world or the problems overseas. Seems they are all handled by General Casey. Now I get to hear what CNN says. I may as well forget that. I'll wait and see what the BBC reports. CNN will somehow cut his soundbites so for those that missed it he may sound more normal.

I was going to hold off making statement about how I will vote come November, although I made my mind up months ago. Just so my readers know I'm a registered independent. I've tried to vote for individuals and policies that I thought would do the job best. No one party represents me well (or at all?). Well, my absentee ballot will be processed this year. I guarantee I will vote every single bill with a "democratic" tick. Anything that so much as hints as a Republican POV I will vote against, even if against my principles or what I'd really like to have happen. It's simply a vote to change the balance of power. In a corrupt two party system do I have any other choice?

About October 2006

This page contains all entries posted to Unbound Spiral in October 2006. They are listed from oldest to newest.

September 2006 is the previous archive.

November 2006 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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