Monday, September 21, 2009

Tata Sky+ (Plus) … Is it worth its price?

Now who hasn’t seen the umpteen ads of Aamir Khan and Asin on the TV, advertising Tata Sky + with their cheeky acts that almost push you to the brim of buying one for yourself. I too would have fallen to one of these extremely well produced ads and spent a good Rs. 9000 (erstwhile) and now Rs 5000 for a Tata Sky + box, but for my sane wife who was steadfast in her refusal to do anything with it. Her reasoning was simple. “When all channels re-broadcast their programs, why does the world need a Tata Sky +?”


(For the novice, a Tata Sky + box is a regular DTH set top box rolled along with a 160 GB hard disk that enables you to record TV programs when you are unable to watch them and then lets you play them back. The same feature also allows real time rewind and playback. It is basically a PVR (Personal Video Recorder)…Sounds great eh?)

This happened twice, I fall for it and my wife pulls me back. I decided to do a Cost-Benefit analysis myself keeping her common sense logic apart.

  1. Rs. 5000 for a just the recording facility of 160GB is way too much. A 160 GB hard disk costs you no more than Rs 2500 today and the price is falling still. The rest of it is just your regular set top box with software patch to record and replay from your PVR.
  2. Even in the US, PVRs cost downwards of $100 that translates to Rs 4500 or less. However the US market DTH market is deregulated to the extent that you need not buy the set top box from your Satellite TV provider which means that the basic TiVo service that allows you to record and replay programs is about $15 a month. Tata Sky on the other hand is planning to hike the price back to Rs. 9000 post Diwali.

And the benefits?

  • I get to record, replay and pause

Well that’s the only benefit. There is no other benefit.

  1. You cannot burn the recorded shows into a DVD or a Blu Ray Disc yet.
  2. Once you reach your 160 GB limit, you need to erase past shows.
  3. You will look like a fool playing a Matrix movie from your Rs 5000 (or Rs. 9000) PVR when your neighbor just waited for 8 hours and watched the re-telecast by selecting the remind feature on his set top box.

Don't lose heart yet. Maybe the Cost Benefit analysis is different for those ladies (or even gents) who have to compulsively obsessively watch the 9:00 PM soap on both Zee TV and Star Plus. These are the kinds who can’t wait for the re-telecast the next day coz they wouldn’t have enough gossip material otherwise during their social circle meetings.

However, if you are like me or my wife, JUST YOU WAIT. Prices of PVRs will crash as soon as the other DTH players bring their versions into the market. Even then , I am doubtful if my wife would let me have one coz this according to her is only a “Nice to Have” gadget but not a “Must Have” whatever the price point. Hopefully I can convince her at the Rs. 2000 mark

Friday, September 18, 2009

Twitter twitter little star…How I wonder what you are?

Twitter mania is catching up everywhere. I got on Twitter….my friend Vasuki’s got on Twitter and now even Facebook has been bitten by the Twitter bug that they have introduced something called Facebook Lite. Though they claim it to be for slow internet connections, it looks more to be a Twitter replacement for Facebook users.

Today the report that Twitter has raised $1B in a fresh round of venture capitalist funding.

One more article from Trackd which says that India might be the 2nd top most country using Twitter.

LiveMint is advising that if you have an idea you are better of testing the waters on Twitter’s incessant chat streams

Even the Indian political babudom is realizing the power of Twitter. Shashi Tharoor’s famous quip on cattle-class ridiculing Congress’s austerity drive is driving congress men into hyper drive in condemning the MoS for External Affairs.

As if all these weren’t tweets enough, there is somebody organizing a Twestival – short for “Twitter Festival”. People around the world connect online and then meet up offline to raise money or awareness for a cause – Thatz what a Twestival is…And this article throws light on how some amazing contributions were gathered in such twestivals …

All I say is “Let the Indians get a hang of this…and you see that a Navaratri of Twestivals is not far off” Ha ha ha…

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The 250th Post capturing the changing Indian IT landscape

My 250th post…and what a dynamic world it is. So many facets of the IT landscape in India have changed in the last 4 years since I commenced blogging. A glimpse into what has changed


  • Hutch exited and Vodafone entered (UK’s major telecom player) competing head-on with the other players in the Indian market
  • 3G that was being talked about has finally seen the light of the day and BSNL/MTNL are already offering the same
  • India conceptualized and successfully launched Chandrayaan-1- its maiden moon mission which for its other wise abrupt end has achieved 90% of its set goals
  • The Dish TV market has exploded with players like Airtel, Sun Direct and Big TV entering the arena that was ruled by DD and Tata Sky initially
  • STD rates have fallen to less than a rupee
  • Newer pulse rates like 1 sec pulse are being experimented with-by players like Tata DoCoMo ( A partnership between Japan based NTT-DoCoMo and Tata Telecom Services, India)
  • India has announced an unmanned Mars mission by 2013-15
  • India has finally announced a focused approach towards a unique citizen identification process – UID program under the stewardship of Nandan Nilekani
  • Broadband penetration in India has reached about 5 million users among the 90 million internet users in India.
  • India announced a $10 laptop scheme along the lines of OLPC – One Laptop Per Child.

 Transformation is happening and also accelerating…Wishing India to change much more rapidly as I blog away to my 500th post :-)

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Monday, September 07, 2009

Convergence of the cellphone and computer…

It is interesting world to be in. Considering the fact that we are about to witness the clash of two titans. On one side you have the mighty Intel who has ruled the PC microprocessor space for two decades now and the grip only seems to be tightening. On the other hand you have the Qualcomm and Texas Instruments of the world who have been the major chip makers for the mobile phones for nearly a decade now.

So what happens when as the cell phone becomes more like a computer and the computer more like a cell phone? It is only inevitable that the two chip makers will clash. While Intel wants the inside of mobile devices to be its domain, so do Qualcomm and Texas Instruments.

One is trying to come from the PC and bring the entire ecosystem along. The other is trying to go up from the phone and build a new ecosystem. And who would the players in these ecosystems be?

Intel will be backed by Microsoft who wants to have a say in what becomes the de-facto OS for the Mobile Internet Devices. Qualcomm has partnered with Google who is coming out with it Chrome OS later next year which is being designed to exploit the enormous processing and storage power that the cloud (read internet) is continuing to build. Google’s hoping users will make the switch from a Windows world to a Chrome world.

Qualcomm whose 21% market share among mobile devices gives it a head start against Intel also makes use of the ARM architecture to design its chips. ARM architecture has been traditionally strong in exploiting battery power to the hilt and can power devices for a whole day on a single charge.


And now a 1 GHz ARM based processor from Qualcomm’s stable named SnapDragon will power next generation devices like the iPhones, Blackberry Storm and T-mobile’s G1 phones based on Android OS from Google.

imageIntel on the other hand has come out with a completely new line of processors named Atom and Moorestown that will be power efficient and targeted at the mobile devices market

While Intel hopes that Microsoft will be able to repeat the magic of Windows on PCs ; Qualcomm is keen on seeing Google emerge as the next big Operating System player.

The other interesting aspect to the whole war are the battles being fought on the sidelines. Who goes into which camp? Nobody wants to join hands with the losing side. Nokia, a major buyer of Qualcomm chips has also partnered with Intel recently to power its Booklet smart internet device. Apple has not chosen sides still.

An interesting war awaits…

Read more here…

Friday, September 04, 2009

Chandrayaan clears the air on Apollo…finally !


Remember these photos !! Doing the rounds since email became popular, these photos released when America announced its successful Apollo 4 mission that landed the first man Neil Armstrong on the moon have evoked more doubts than awe.

Controversies on whether the US had actually succeeded in putting a man on abounded following the publication of these photos. The top left photo was deemed a fake based on the different positions of the shadow of the astronauts. The second and third photo was also construed as fake citing a waving flag on an airless moon.

Though the US published repeated reports on why these observations really make sense, the controversies took on lives of their own. That’s until now…

A Camera on board India’s maiden unmanned lunar mission Chandrayaan-1 has recorded images of the landing site of US spacecraft Apollo 15, rubbishing conspiracy theories that the fourth US mission to land on the moon four decades back was a hoax.

The Terrain mapper camera (TMC) on board Chandrayaan-1, which had an abrupt end a few days back, has sent the prints of landing site of Apollo 15 and tracks of the lunar rovers used by astronauts to travel on lunar surface

Finally it took an Indian moon mission to put an end to this seemingly never ending scheme.


Thursday, September 03, 2009

One (mobile) number for every Indian

Traceability and identity management of a billion plus people is no joke. It is in fact a nightmare for the government. The intention of getting the PAN (Personal Account Number) to be the sole identity for every Indian citizen did not fruition. This prompted the government of India to revisit this imperative with a lot more focus and also approach the problem in new ingenious ways.

While the national Unique Identification Number (UID) approach under the stewardship of Nandan Nilekani, former CEO of Infosys is to view the problem from the grassroot level, C-DoT, India’s premier computer and IT research organization has put forth an out-of-the-box approach. Get your mobile number to double up as your unique identity number. Now why did I or you not think of this before? With 442 million mobile subscribers and about 15 million joining in with each passing month, the world’s fastest growing mobile market, India, might just be the place where we could put this to test. However, the government does have some wrinkles to iron out before this plan seems feasible

First, How do you ensure a mobile phone in every Indian’s hands? If that’s un-feasible, what’s the alternative to people who are not mobile yet?

Second, even if you ensured that how will you ensure that we won’t run out of 10 digit numbers for all. If we go back in history a little, the ten digit mobile plan was put in place in 2003 to eventually cater to about 750 mobile numbers and was expected to cater to demand till 2030. It was estimated that the mobile user base would take about 3 decades to reach 750 million. However we are already on the cusp of spilling over. Increasing the mobile number length could be one idea…

Whatever the problems be, technology should eventually be able to solve it. Termed the “One Number” project, this futuristic study under the aegis of P V Acharya, C-DoT’s executive director does indeed lend a fresh approach to a problem plaguing India for some time now.

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