Archive for the Web Category

Logging My Life

| April 21st, 2007

Gordon Bell has been recording every bit of his life for the past seven years. His custom-designed software, “MyLifeBits” saves everything it can, from every email he sends and receives, every document he types, every chat session he engages in, every Web page he surfs. The advantages of such a software are obvious: total recall. It gives one the ability to search ones life for any reference of a person/thing.

Inspired by it I have decided to start logging my life as well. As of now its restricted to only my online life as I do not have resources like the SenseCam. The data collected in this process could be used in numerous ways: total recall, recommendations, predictions, and so on. As Peter Norvig says, “Its about the data and not the algorithm”.

Head over to the Life Logger project page, where I am documenting how I have been logging my life along with tools and algorithms for aggregating and analyzing such data.

Happy logging :-)

Click here for the Life Logger Project homepage

Whats The Buzz Of The Shoposphere?

| December 11th, 2006

That certainly was a tough question to answer, but not anymore. Whatsbuzzing, which released a few days back (reminds me of the sleepless nights :-)), helps you do just that. The brainchild of Anand Jagannathan, Whatsbuzzing is aimed at solving the online shopping woes of users. As described in Anand’s blog:

Whatsbuzzing is a destination site for online shopping. The site offers a one-stop service where consumers can browse across hundreds of storefronts, view the latest trends and find the hottest deals. In contrast to comparison shopping or product information sites, Whatsbuzzing provides visitors with the experience of a shopping mall. Visitors can browse storefronts by content, category or store name. A visitor can also tag storefronts so other consumers can find storefronts that are interesting. The storefronts are fully interactive and are constantly being updated with fresh content and timely offers.

As stated above, what makes it different from the plethora of shopping services is the unique content. Instead of just showcasing product details and prices, it also helps you keep track of the latest deals/discounts/offers – capturing the buzz in its true essence.

Another factor that makes it stand apart is its foray into being a browsing engine as compared to the omnipotent search engines. Although search is an integral part of Whatsbuzzing, it is just another feature to help assist the users to find products quickly.

It is surely the panacea to all my shopping woes. With the season of Christmas setting in why don’t you give it a try and come back with some feedback.

Sheeple Of The Blogosphere

| October 7th, 2006

Sheeple is a term of disparagement, a portmanteau created by combining the words “sheep” and “people”; a reference to herd mentality. It is often used to denote persons who acquiesce to authority, and thus undermine their own human individuality.

Have we reduced to mere sheeples? Bloglines estimates a mere thousand feeds having greater than one subscriber. Quoting Eric Schmidt:

“The average blog has one reader: the blogger” [via]

When I glance through my Bloglines subscriptions I see the blogs of the biggies like Mike Arrington, John Battelle etc. Most of us view the blogosphere through this window (rather pin-hole), comprising of a few thousand popular blogs. Although their popularity speaks for their content, they restrict our perception of the blogosphere. There are numerous other bloggers who have a lot more valuable to say. But where is the audience?

There is no such service/app which gives us an unbiased view of whats happening and being said in the blogosphere. Its like the blogosphere has been virtually hijacked.

To get noticed, an anonymous blogger has to resort to either of the following:

  • Become a (Sheeple) frequent reader of these blogs and participate by commenting hoping that someone will clickthru and notice you.
  • Get featured in one of their posts (that is only if you are well connected).
  • Write something that might offend them (probably this post won’t go unnoticed :) ).

So sheeples, transform yourselves back into people. Stop looking through the pin-hole and broaden your vision. You probably have no clue of how interesting the actual blogosphere is.

The Trojan Room Coffee Pot

| September 8th, 2006

Ever wondered how the ubiquitous webcam came into existence. Well, it all started in the Trojan Room at the University of Cambridge way back in 1991. There were a couple of guys working in the room on ATM networks and all they had for refreshment was a coffee filter machine placed outside in the corridor. And then there were a couple of other guys, members of the coffee club, who worked in different parts of the building. These guys had to navigate several flights of stairs to get to the coffee pot only to find it emptied by the all-night hackers of the Trojan Room. This is why the XCoffee was born.

Paul Jardetzky and Quentin Stafford-Fraser setup up a video frame-grabber and hacked up a client-server program that would display an icon-sized image of the coffee pot, which refreshed at the rate of about three times every minute. This helped them to decide when the time was right to get a cup of coffee.

Trojan Room Coffee Pot

This image above is that of the actual coffee pot. The coffee machine was finally switched off at 0954 UTC on Wednesday 22nd August 2001.

It sometimes makes me wonder how small ideas/needs revolutionize the world.