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Author: Sam Kurien
•8:16 PM
Innovation comes in different forms/flavors and fall into different categories. Talking about categories some of them fall into expensive ones while others stare jeeringly from opposite spectrum of the price band. I love it when new product design and innovations falls in the least expensive category because more people can afford it and from the business perspective you can make much more money. Didn't Swatch the in-expensive watch maker take control over expensive brand watch companies?. Also on a different note though the automobile's internal combustion engine is a marvelous invention, the windshield wiper is an equally innovating invention that has saved millions of lives in tough weather situations.

Well today's review is on iPad stands. One of them, called the 'Joule', has the whopping sticker price of $129 and the other one, merely $0.69, was discovered by New York Time multimedia editor Andrew Devignal who picked up the cheap plastic card holder and converted it into an iPad stand. Creative ideas and innovation at its best...


The fancy-schmancy expensive 'Joule' looks nice, though...I am not going to spend $129...will gladly let the makers of 'Joule' be on their jolly good way to file chapter 11 for a dumb pricing model.


Cheers,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•7:07 AM
Media hacks, home automation and theater room design are one of my hobbies and interests among the million other things I get involved in. Now that the top manufacturers have released their entry level 3D TV's and the release of Avatar and other 3D rich content on their way to blu-ray I decided to put a 3D FAQ here for future reference when I shop for a 3D TV or implement it with Runco 3D projector some day. I took these FAQ's from Engadget and have eliminated many of the questions that I feel may not interest the lay reader.

What are the different 3D content formats?

Just like HD has different resolutions, 3D has different formats. There is frame compatible that is backwards compatible with set-top boxes, then there is the new MVC AVC codec that requires new equipment but it does double the resolution. It is the left image plus the difference for the right.

Side by Side 3D of the Masters

Isn't frame compatible half the resolution of HD?
No, it's actually the exact same resolution as HD. Sure it would be better if the resolution was doubled, but it still isn't less resolution than HD.




3D formats
What resolution is 3D in?
Both 3D formats support 1080p and 720p. Blu-ray is 1080p 24 per eye or 720p 60 per eye. 3D broadcast is 1080i 30 per eye or 720p 60 per eye.

Is HDMI 1.4a required for 3D?
No, in fact many HDMI 1.3 cables, switches and other equipment will work with multiple 3D formats, but none are guaranteed to work. HDMI 1.4a equipment is guaranteed to work with most 3D formats.

So if I buy a new 3DTV, what else do I need to watch 3D via cable or satellite?
Since most existing set-tops support frame compatible 3D, you won't need anything else. But until yourbox gets a firmware update that'll make it 3D aware, you'll need to manually select the format.


How much bandwidth does 3D need?
Frame compatible 3D uses the same as HD, but DirecTV says it's more efficient to compress. 3D Blu-ray uses about 50 percent more throughput with a higher maximum bit rate of 60Mbps.


Who cares about 3D, I want 1080p at 60 fps.
We all do and in fact cable and satellite plan on delivering 1080p60 per eye eventually, but it'll require a new set-top box -- no word on which codec will be used, but you'll be able to watch it in 2D too.


Will a 3D channel require a full 6Mhz QAM channel?


No, not at all. Even the ultimate 1080p/60 per eye would easily fit into half a QAM channel. You see since the set-top needs upgraded anyways, it'll be upgraded to one that supports some variation of H.264, which is much more efficient than MPEG2 that's used today.


How will 24p 3D be displayed on a 240hz HDTV?
Sony 3DTVs display 24p 3D at 120hz per eye, so each frame will be shown 5 times.
Panasonic 3DTVs will display 24p 3D at 96hz per eye, so each frame will be shown 3 times.


Are there even any 3D channels?
Other than a few 3D specials there aren't any channels live yet, ESPN will launch its 3D channel this Summer on DirecTV -- no one else has announced carriage yet. DirecTV also plans to launch a few 3D channels this Summer including a PPV channel and a variety channel. All will use the frame compatible 3D format but will probably be different resolutions (ESPN is expected to be 720p60, might be some 1080p24 PPV movies too).

So... sports and movies, is that it?
No, Discovery and Sony are working to launch a 3D channel next year that might be called 3D.net.


When are we going to start seeing 3D Blu-ray Discs for sale?
No firm dates yet, but Blu-ray movies should start shipping this Summer, in the meantime demo material comes with Samsung and Panasonic's 3D kits.


Do 3DTVs cost a lot more than 2DTVs?
No, not really. In fact the first generation 3DTVs from Samsung and Panasonic are actually cheaper than their comparable-older 2D versions.


Older TVs can't be upgraded to play 3D. Even the latest 120Hz displays can't accept the signal and there's no IR emitter to sync the glasses.

Can I use the 3D glasses as sunglasses?
Well you can do whatever you want, but while the glasses do block light they don't really work as sunglasses.


If they block light, does that mean the TV is dimmer?
Kind of, displays actually automatically crank up the brightness to compensate for the dimming of the glasses, but the glasses do improve the display's perceived black levels.


Can I upgrade the firmware in my Blu-ray player to support 3D?
Only the PS3 is getting an update, most older hardware can't be updated to support the new MVC version of AVC that is used to encode 3D.


Can I watch 2D on a 3DTV?


Yes of course, you don't have to watch 3D all the time. The newer HDTVs have better 2D performance as well and you can even watch 3D content in 2D if you want.


Can I watch this new 3D content on the 120Hz HDTV I just bought?
No, older TVs can't / won't be upgraded to be 3D compatible. Even the latest 120Hz displays can't accept the signal and there is no IR emitter to sync the glasses. 


So what my Mitsubishi or Samsung DLP has been doing 3D for while, so can I just pick up a 3D Blu-ray player and enjoy?
Nope, DLPs use the checkerboard 3D format which needs a converter, but Mitsubishi does have one coming for an estimated $100. In addition some 3D Blu-ray players like the Panasonic 3DT-300 will output checkerboard 3D -- thanks snickering hound.

Cheers till the next time

Sam Kurien


Source: Engadget
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Author: Sam Kurien
•10:19 AM
Business Analysis along with operational research have always been fascinating subjects to me. I have been lucky to have been part of requirement analysis for projects that need translation of business needs to geek for business process (BP) implementation. Business analysis provides a foundational stone of building especially when new changes are implemented in business processes, initiation of new projects or while making paradigm shifts in operational management. When an organization goes through these changes the tools sets in the BA's life becomes a combination of skills and behaviors he or she has developed over the course of years in terms of modelling, systemic thinking, inter-personal communication, root cause analysis, and general analytical skills. Keep in mind however, the end result in whatever way these skills are employed by the BA, the end objective is to improve and make the business better.

Using prototypes and models have long been and become the life source of rich communication for a business analyst. Modelling and UI designs especially help in reducing vital mistakes, understanding of bottlenecks and capturing of information from the end users that may have been missed. It gives the analyst the understanding of what people do, not what they say they are doing to make BP more optimal. So it boils down to communication and cultural.

Communication within the organization and between vendors/partners though crucial and a BA is a bridging gap being the assigned professionals who does full time business analysis a cultural change from the top down to treat every employee as BA has even greater merits. This means employees who are empowered to be a process improver's or be a  generator of ideas to improve BP's will ultimately help those project leaders and professional BA's to do their jobs more effectively and efficiently. Business analysis is after all ....the art of improving the business and every employee when treated as a professional with job descriptions filled in with details of improving process's, the end result is an ever evolving organization that is optimized to take advantage of the opportunities that come up in the market place. A culture like this discovers the business policies re-visits, re-evaluates and reforms these policies from time to time.

My thoughts till the next time,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•7:37 AM


So as suspected Google wants to give you the ability to print from any web centric mobile device copying the way Apple has shown that it is moving the .mac service. One of the biggest problem with the Chrome OS and the browser in general in my opinion the lack of printer stacking or drivers that can be recognized on the fly. The way they are or will be trying to overcome this for the Chrome OS as per the grapevine is - when a print request is send into the cloud it will come to what they call 'Google-stations' which will translate those instructions to the nearest printer, before that sending a signal to retrieve the type of printer and thereby update the drivers if missing on the 'Google-station' and resending the translated instructions of data over the internet. I have used apps over my iphone that do a similar thing but updating and recognizing the printer via the cloud is more easier said than done.  Though a database of all the printers ever made can be built, the challenge however will be about the driver compilation process and updates along the way and of course with minor details :) like overcoming firewall's and penetrating networks will be something all mobile geeks can dream of...right?

Check out the design docs and first hand look at the free code at Chromium website

Cheers,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•12:19 PM
As speed of serving customers and accessing information in real time becomes a crunch piece to stay ahead in the marketplace. The power of the web is being harnessed by every corporate player to make their service offerings viable, deliverable and to expand their own piece of the pie. The last decade on the web has slowly surfaced as being or becoming the integral part of every one’s life, it is no surprise that in the last five years social networking sites like Facebook, Orkut, MySpace, Twitter, Blogger and the million others have exploded in their user base and numbers. Its ultimately volume that decides the fate of your business today, quality though important can be delivered over the period of service.The primary motivators are if you are cheap, reliable and substantial on the cloud a user base will follow, once hooked they will be willing to pay the price and support it.

Disruptive technologies are here to stay and very well form the preferable mode of communication and they are well into their way in becoming part of web delivery applications. Hence on the webosphere we see the skirmishes and battle lines among the major players like Google and Microsoft blowing up into full-fledged wars as to who will ultimately control the cloud.

Google had a head start in terms of web apps for using the internet as way people eventually would exchange, share and manipulate documents - the result Google We Apps and tools. Rival Microsoft the sleeping giant has awakened and is quickly catching up on the heels of colored spheres company and it seems there will be some A-kicking time for the micro softies. The release of Microsoft’s office 2010 online based office tools and Sharepoint 2010 will put them again in the driver’s seat. A substantial user base and the right incentives by Microsoft will give Google a blow and will force its hand to aggression in terms of innovation.

Simplicity of Web apps and more accurately simplicity of the user interfaces so far has kept Google ahead but users who use MS-Office as a desktop application are not sold on it to switch because they want the rich features they are used to. A true complain and a hindrance on web applications to date. Microsoft is going to narrow that gap rapidly and with 25 years of experience behind them and the marketing killing machine they are it will be hard to bring a substantial user base into the fold as soon as they begin to push these applications.

Software as a subscription service will rule the web and is here to stay as the preferred model of software business. Its now well on its way as how organizational information are disseminated, reported and collected in real time in almost all domains. True business intelligence right from tasks from the bottom user to the the top decision makers will be on the touch, flicks and clicks of doing their jobs and all information collectively coming into one place.

So as the giant’s battle it out it will be interesting to see in the next five years who emerges victorious. Microsoft has always adopted the policy of embrace, extend and obliterate or (exterminate) the competition and Google seems to be under the gun. The Cloud or the Internet will be the uniting factor of all these services being offered from the different stables and quarters be it in the technology arenas of Mobile communications, Web-based office applications, Social networking, Database and ETL tools, Online Gaming, Networking and Advertising. A company that I am following since last two years is zoho.com the guys there have got what it takes in the technical sense of delivering SAAS model that can be the death of corporate enterprise level desktop applications but it remains to be seen how good are they at marketing and this is where I suspect the Microsoft has an edge along with its technical and Capital muscles....watch out the giant is flexing...the clash is inevitable.

My personal opinion is the tech company with a vision, strategy and business model that hooks users increasing the user base by leaps and bounds will be the ultimate survior or the absolute winner. Your comments on this are welcome....let me know.

Cheers,

Sam Kurien
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Author: Sam Kurien
•8:18 PM

As budgets tighten and economies of scale change resources in the IT sector are under purview to cut backs.Traditionally support systems are where these cutbacks take place first. I have evangelized and advised otherwise where ever I have worked, my idea is until you start viewing IT as vital investment piece that correlates closely to corporate strategy and planning functions, organizations will not be competitive or flexible in the ever changing landscape of business.
So when it comes to IT projects  a culture of treating each IT project as an investment right from the top of the chain of command to the project directors and project managers who bring the implementation to fruition becomes vital in driving  of overall corporate strategy. That is why in IT Governance models,  CIO's, CTO's, CEO's and CFO work in tandem and are key contributors in guiding the overall processes to align with the big picture of the organization. A culture set that way is always able to recognize when it’s time to cut loose projects that aren’t delivering sufficient value. A good example here would be that of Yellow Technologies which in late 90's after a spree of acquisitions had a novel idea of setting up something like the People's court where key managers took part in reviewing software licenses, agreements, projects, partnerships. Once a month 4 IT managers heard functional managers and projects managers and in the people's court of the organization these IT judges came back with a metric evaluation whether the said function stayed or was cut loose from the set of activities the organization was to pursue. A matrix of acceptance and elimination under the governance models were applied and propagated throughout the company. Over a period of time it became the culture and a norm which turned them in the competitive edge for the IT services sector. Another factor and benefit that developed for Yellow Technologies was the element of speed that got built in and IT projects getting done in a faster and reliable manner which in turn saved costs and increased revenues.  
Another stellar example while I study business cases is that stands out for me is what the folks at GE Industrial Systems have achieved. For them, small projects must achieve payback in less than one year, large projects in less than two years—and the idea is to tighten the screws on project time frames and budgets every year. (Only compliance projects, like those required by Sarbanes-Oxley, are exempt from the strict time limit.) The whole idea o philosophy was if a given project is repeated next year that has similar outcomes and similar processes it should be achieved 50 percent faster and in accounting terms which means if it cost $1 to put in the general ledger the next year it should be 50 cents. 
So in conclusion I think a pattern that can be followed is, technology can't be isolated but is to be used as a strategic investment tool where return is expected (hopefully a profitable one)  once that is recognized, a governance model helps to lay down the structure, a matrix of evaluation, elimination and enforcement should guide the ethos of keeping what is needed and throwing off what is not producing results and the end objective is to optimize processes to complete projects or organizational tasks in less time and less cost. 
Cheers till the next time.
Sam Kurien
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