Let me first wish all readers and regular followers of Brajeshwar a very Happy New Year, 2011. 2010 could have been a bad year for many and here is hoping for a better start in 2011. A bad year it was for many at Yahoo! too.
Yes, Yahoo! has done it again. In less than 4 years the company has gone ahead and issued the pink slip to as many as 2,700 employees. History says that the Sunnyvale, California based company had sacked around 1,400 jobs in the year 2008 during the time of recession and then up to 700 job holders were shown the gate in the very next year 2009.
Following this is yet another lot of 600 people who now have to look for other job opportunities. The downsizing saga continued with Yahoo! chopping of 600 jobs during December mid-month of 2010, but the number supposedly higher than the real deal. There were speculations of at least a 20% layoff which in real-time has reduced to a 4% layoff.
2010 might very well have been the year that we dipped further into an Orwellian nightmare as we lost all sense of privacy and dominion. This passing year we have experienced less privacy than ever before with changing Facebook privacy controls and the independence of the press has been obliterated after the persecution of WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Consider the following main tenets of Orwell’s 1984 in juxtaposition with the major waves in 2010:
Big Brother — Privacy is dead, get over it
Orwell’s concept of Big Brother was an all-seeing eye that watched us constantly, eerily similar to that of Facebook in 2010. This past year Facebook has come under serious scrutiny for changing its privacy constraints, which permeate almost every aspect of our culture. One cannot help but make comparisons between the all-seeing eye of Big Brother and the all-seeing eye of Facebook, both of which dissolve our rights to privacy.
Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg was even quoted this year saying that “privacy is no longer a social norm,” and that privacy is dead, get used to it. These Big Brother-style comments come at a critical time for privacy issues, as more and more of our lives are brought online. With Facebook’s new searchable parameters, literally everything we do will be online– and at their mercy.
It has always been a practice to think, talk and write about innovative technology that either directly or indirectly has something to do with the world of computing and it always has to be a major news only if stalwarts like Microsoft, Google, or Apple come up with these tech trends. My last article for the year 2010, I wanted to focus on something entirely different. Hence I will highlight on a topic that hovers around on some of the most unique technological trends. These trends were supposedly set to take off during 2010. While we cannot really authenticate their success rate yet, we can surely expect them to pick up in the coming year – 2011. Let us take a look at some of these trends:
1. An online funeral
Till recently online web services such as Otrib and Tributes were used as a platform to pay tribute to loved ones who had passed away. Now this trend has elevated to the level wherein people are actually conducting funerals online using webcasting services through FuneralRecording and FunerAlone. Understandably these kind of events happening online could be frowned upon, but this trend means that people from located anywhere can attend the funeral without actually having to travel.
Be it watching a movie, listening to music, watching television, editing pictures, make records and file them, etc., all this and more is now possible by owning a good laptop – Want to watch a movie? Pop in a DVD. Want to listen to music? Try a CD, or play your MP3 collection or stream music from the Internet. Want to watch television? Stream shows from the Web, or get a digital tuner and get local broadcasts for free. Got a digital camera? Use a laptop to preview your pictures and edit them. You can even make phone calls, with an app called Skype. And to top this off all this is available at a price that is easily affordable even for a middle-class audience – less than $400. A dilemma however is that there is a whole lot of choices to opt from (numerous brands to pick from).
Security organization McAfee has professed that 2011 will see increased attacks on Apple merchandise like the iPhone and iPad, largely due to their in the business sector. McAfee said that Macs had thus far not been often targeted by malicious attackers, because they are not widely deployed.
McAfee cites a major problem of Apple users being unconcerned about malware and other security threats believing that they are secure because no one has attacked them yet. Their report said that the dearth of user understanding regarding exposure on these platforms and the dearth of deployed security options makes for a lucrative landscape for cybercriminals. McAfee said that Mac botnets created by Trojan Horse attacks will increase, as well. Virus and malware may arise as the growth of Apple is calling the attention of hackers, looking to steal sensitive data. Soothsayers have been predicting doom in the mobile arena and while it hasn’t happened yet, it is still only a matter of time.
Continuing from where I left off in my previous article, Tech World’s Top 10 Mistakes – Series I, let us now look at the remaining half of the technology world’s top ten blunders – counting down from number 5 to number 1:
5. IBM PS/2 a little too late
IBM was indeed very late to put to action its pro-active idea of counter-attacking its competitors. IBM’s break-through concept of bringing a computer to every office desk in the world worked very well until competitors like Compaq and others began to hit back during the era of the 3rd generation of the PC market. What the competitors did was they started to fabricate a PC clone of IBM and started to eat away IBM’s PC sales whose prices were, as per business consumers, pretty high and hence they did not mind buying working PCs without the IBM logo on them.
In order to get back into the PC marker groove, IBM gave birth to a new idea and named it PS/2 which was supposedly ‘a completely new PC with a closed micro channel architecture that would force the cloners to start again from scratch’. This could have been fantastic, considering competition would suffer till the time they found a new way to hit back. But the worst part of the entire scenario was that even consumers would have to start from the scratch in terms of getting compatible with the new system. IBM thought that they had enough influence that can pull this idea off. But they were wrong. Another basic mistake that IBM made was the non-realization of the fact that the time for earning more margins on hardware products was long gone and now software is where the real money lies.
4. Iridium hiccup
This should probably be considered as a brilliant technological breakthrough backed by stupid execution tactics. The idea of never having to experience spotty mobile phone coverage and dropped calls surely would be much appreciated and loved by consumers. However, this seems as a dream yet to come true for users, for the team that launched the Iridium satellite went through nightmares to come up with its execution. A mobile network which would cover the entire globe was launched in the year 1998 and nine months post that they had to file for bankruptcy. To achieve the set ambition, they had to actually launch 77 orbital satellites on which the Iridium satellite would rely on. Launching one satellite itself costs loads, so multiplying the loads of cost into 77 would result as quite a large expense. Hence, the bankruptcy. The mission is now seen as a specialist service for remote applications like that of Ocean Vessels and rescue operations.
3. Itanium case
A simple case which focused on engineering optimism and lacked business sense. Intel’s huge investment during early 2000 went into fabricating Intel’s first 64-bit chip. Similar to what IBM did with its PS/2, Intel did with Itanium. Intel did not realize the essence of backing their hardware product with the requisite software application which would enable better deployment and usability of its 64-bit code. This is exactly what competitor AMD did – Operton chip; a chip that combined 32 and 64-bit operations and beat Intel in understanding the exact business trend at that time. Technological business firms are always paralysed by the inability to distinguish between “can we do this?” and “should we do this?”
2. Sony’s ‘deadly’ battery
Now this one is quite different from the already mentioned blunders which either caused user dissatisfaction or created financial losses. Sony apparently developed a battery during 2006/07 which was so deadly that it could have killed users. These battery-packs were made for computer makers like Dell, Apple and Acer and were of lithium-ion make. Once if the computers of laptops were slammed hard on the floor, the battery cells would heat up to the level of creating a small time blast due to a violent combustion. The computers made up of these batteries were recalled and re-fabricated with to ensure there were no dangerous elements in the systems.
1. Intel Pentium Zero processor
One of the most premium inventions that ever took place in the computer hardware-world is Intel’s Pentium processor. But there was a huge blunder that Intel committed and that was a technological flaw supported very well by pathetic engineering and PR planning. During 1994 Intel was doing very well with its Pentium processor earning very good accolades with its astonishing 66MHz clock speeds. But one mathematics professor’s problem with the processor turned out to be disastrous for Intel. He’d installed a few Pentiums in a system being used to enumerate prime numbers, but had been getting very dodgy results back ever since. Intel already knew what the problem was, but chose not to rectify it reasoning that the problem wasn’t an issue unless you were really performing high level mathematical functions. The issue was with the chip’s floating point unit and they presumed they would sort the entire predicament out later. But it was too late too ugly for them.
So there you go, the list of the top ten most obtuse technological blunders made by some of the most renowned technology players in the world.
There can never exist an industry in this world that can survive from making mistakes. And an industry that needs to be very meticulous in fabricating every product, service or solution can also not escape the ugly part of making blunders – I am talking quite obviously of the technology industry. There can be errors made by any and every person in this planet and technologists also cannot get away with a clean chit. Take the beginning of this very financial year for example; there was the counterfeiting of the Apple prototype iPhone. Also, reported during the same month was the blunder made by McCafe. Though it is a cliche statement it is worth mentioning here that ‘to err is human’ but should we be kind enough so as to ‘forgive the blunderers and be divine’.
Every day, millions of people all over the world flip open their smartphones and connect to the same Internet that they have used for over almost two decades. They are mesmerized by the way technology has evolved, but never stop and think about how little the Internet itself has changed. Is 2011 Going to be a Treat for Mobile Malware discusses how easily mobile phones may be infected and used to spread malware.
Owners of mobile phones need to be prepared for a potential attack on their new devices. Fortunately, there are a few guidelines they can use preceding the next stage of evolution in cyber terrorism.
Be careful about the apps you download
When the Internet became mainstream, one of the most cliche phrases was “be careful what you download, you could get a virus.” Somehow, mobile phone owners have become incredibly trusting of the apps that proliferate their new world. One Vietnamese hacker was able to exploit this trust and use a trojan in one of his bogus applications which was used to steal people’s credit card information.
Google has been the father of innovation in cyberspace. They have developed so many advanced web technologies that we have begun to believe that they would never develop a technology that wouldn’t catch on with the web community.
Google has recently developed the Chrome Operating System. The intention of this technology is to make traditional desktop operating systems obsolete. That’s a worthy goal, but the operating system may actually be Google’s first big flop. Google brags that the system is going to be fast, simple and secure. Unfortunately, many web technologists don’t find these cliche statements to be very impressive.
Chrome is not for everyone
If you were hoping to log into your Google account and download the Chrome Operating System, you are going to be out of luck. The OS is not going to be made available to the public. The open source Chromium software can be available to anyone for compilation. Many users are not happy to use an operating system they can’t download. Perhaps they need to adapt to the next generation of web technology, but there are larger concerns for web users.
A recent survey of Nielsen Company has made Smartphones – the talk of the town. Every blog and news website is publishing and writing about this sudden rise in demand for the Smartphone and the mass populace of United States now has to reconsider which OS is the best and serves as the best for their individual needs. In the fiscal quarterly results, at the end of Q2 2010, U.S. Smartphone market share was ruled by Blackberry but the survey done in October by Nielson company completely turned the table upside down.
According to the surveys conducted in United States, Android and Apple iphone OS are the only cutthroat contenders in the stratum of ameliorated mobile technology whereas Blackberry OS occupies the third place. The research concluded that 29.7 of U.S. mobile subscribers own Smartphones that completely run on fulltime OS. Taking into account the whole OS market share of the U.S., Apple iOS rules the market share just by couple of points as against Blackberry, with 27.9 and 27.4% respectively. The third place is occupied by the Android OS by 22.7% share, which has seen an eye-popping rise of 14% since January.