Goopplebook In the Black Box

So, my close friend online, and a closer friend offline, Manoj retweeted a post saying thus: “RT @lemay: Apple cannot do cloud, Google cannot do social, and Facebook cannot do apps. It’s like the “walked into a bar” joke for tech nerds.” Being a serial entrepreneur in my imaginary world, I couldn’t resist coming up with this cool-sounding, socially not-awkward, easy to remember name for a company that could do great in all the three.

Thus was born Goopplebook : A (as yet) fictitious company that does cloud as good as Google, apps as good as Apple and Social as good as Facebook.

Anyway, the conviction behind each of those claims isn’t very strong. It is all a fad and media magic and social engineering on the part of all the three companies to make you believe so. If at all, the three biggies are, in my opinion, struggling to get things right on their own turf. Google is starting to have apps as great as they are in Apple, Google+ is slowly permeating as a hybrid between Twitter and Blogging and Facebook apparently is struggling the most to live upto its past.

So, what should Goopplebook do right to be the next big thing, and not struggle to be relevant for a long time?

While this is the general public side of things, we would need something that serves the corporate side pretty much the same way, but being extra secure, with not-so-funky sounding name, extra boring and colored blue, black and grey. Clearly, Goopplebook ain’t a name for that! So, which are the players that wannabe social, apps and cloud in the corporate side of the world? LinkedIn (Perfect balance between hardened corporates, and wannabe corporates), Blackberry (resurrecting the dead!!), and Dropbox (well, this one doesn’t suck). So, my imaginary serial entrepreneur self comes out with a name and can’t resist from making it lame, yet catchy and apt.

Thus will be born InTheBlackBox : A (as yet) fictitious company that does the cloud, apps and social for corporates, and doesn’t suck, bore and isn’t blue, black or grey.

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Hello Phone!

I was wondering what would be so great about having a smartphone with a fantastic OS against my trusted old micromax mobile. Well, this is it. Seamless and hassle free to do things which otherwise force me to be bound to my PC.

Presenting my first post from my smartphone.

Hello again, World!

Windows vs Mac vs Linux

Not to be taken too seriously/technically, this post tries to make a common man understand what the names resemble.

Mac is like a big aquarium. It is a kind of show-off and sure enuf, increases your charisma in computing circles. It is arguably tough for any outside fish to come to your vicinity, after all, aquariums are meant to be that way. The software at your disposal is like the water in it. To keep your swimming experience a pleasure always, there are a lot of fortification procedures done, even before you buy it. All the glitter is encapsulated and life becomes a bit of a bore as u age. Of course, new water at times, and a new tank every 2-3 years sounds great. New water needs to be certified as we all know that the health of the fish is at stake! But when it boils down to what fishes do, the bottom line : You are swimming in a glass box.

Windows is like a bucket half filled with water. The bucket is some micro-particles-containing soft material. Initially, you are sorta content with it coz u understand that you can add more water as you please. Lots of vendors are very eager to sell/give you some, and make you happier. All seems well. As you add more water, you start to notice something amiss. The bucket starts wobbling and shows signs of weariness and/or breakdown. Also, it is famed to contain some micro holes and your water is wasted little by little either by loss, or by contamination. Naturally, there are vendors eagerly awaiting to provide their hole-filling/fixing services. After that, neither the water, nor the bucket is the same as before. We forgot the fish here right? Fortunately, the holes that we just discussed, are not big enough for the fish. They’ll be pleased with colorful buckets once a while. If they keep jumping around uncontrolled, they might jump out of it and pray god that somebody put them back.

Linux is like an ocean. Water keeps coming from the rivers, and there are a lot of rivers around. There is much to see if you want to, while doing all your regular swimming activities. You can travel the ocean far and wide and be wiser, or you can stick to your school and enjoy your locale. You take the call. You can migrate to a different part of the ocean in search of peace/adventure. You take the call. Typical of an ocean, you find big fish, small fish, medium fish, etc. You can be lost and ask for directions or befriend them and swim more of the ocean. You take the call. This is freedom. With so much freedom, comes so much power. With that much power, comes that much responsibility. You can use it according to the book and be safe, or take a few wrong steps and learn lessons the harder way. Of course, nowadays there are nicely laid out paths in the ocean for new fish to start out, cutting the intimidation. So, you can learn a few things about the ocean and, if you want a little more, the adventure is limited only by your imagination.

The feature I wish my Smart Phone had!

Smart phones are the norm when it comes to mobile devices today. So, what makes these phones smart? Well, the answer differs with people. Big players in this market are bundling the commonly required ‘smart’ features into their devices and making a good deal of business for themselves, as well as giving fresher deals for their customers.

What does a smart phone do actually? According to me, it reduces the number of devices to carry, without reducing the functionalities of all of them. Tons of features are plaguing the smart phone owners by means of advanced hardware enhancements and innovative software apps. All of them are making the smart phone smarter.

In this plethora of sorts, there is bound to be some deficiencies in functionalities, as the craziness of expectations increase. Thanks to the blogging platform, expressing those ‘weird’ needs is now easier. Here I present my idea.

Smart phone mouse
With motion sensing getting refined with every new device, and touch screen almost being a mandate in the smart phone segment, I wish I could use it as a bluetooth mouse. Here is how I wish it worked.

The inverted bump to be stuck

How it should work : The ‘hardware’ part.

  • We need to have a small bump like thing stuck to the back of the phone as shown in the pic. Everything else is up to the software app.
  • The bump enables us to rest the phone in an area as small as a INR Re. 1/- coin.
  • This enables us to tilt the phone in all directions.
  • The magnitude and duration of tilt determine the speed of the mouse pointer, and the tilt direction naturally dictates the direction of motion of the mouse pointer.

How it should work : The ‘software’ part.

  • The app should work on the host (laptop/notebook/netbook/PC/Mac) as well as the guest (smart phone).
  • The touch screen, as a basic requirement, should have touchable areas to capture left-click, right-click and the scroll-wheel motion. Anything else is left to the imagination.
  • The info about the tilt direction, duration and magnitude, along with the clicks and scroll-wheel data should be encoded and transmitted via bluetooth just like the current bluetooth mouse present in the market.

Lo and behold! Your smart phone can now work as a computer mouse too. šŸ™‚
I am confident that it can give the Apple’s Mighty Mouse, a run for its money, for the simple reason that the improvements in functionality are moving from hardware to software.

Pros :

  • One less device to carry.
  • One less wire to entangle yourself with.
  • With multi point bluetooth transfer available, u can use A2DP for calls and music, or do the bluetooth file transfer with your mouse smart phone concurrently.
  • You will be using your wrist better and I hope this reduces frightening stuff like Repetitive Strain Injury and/or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
  • Motion sensing and touch are getting better. So, you may not feel like clicking the mouse when your touch makes things work. šŸ™‚
  • All you have to buy extra is the bump for your phone. šŸ™‚

Cons :

  • Vendors might not support it as it will reduce their Mouse sales. šŸ˜‰
  • Power consumption may increase marginally.

Photo courtesy : diytrade.com

My Chatter Bot Experience.

We see a lot of things around us which are ‘intelligent’ apart from humans. Ever heard of CHATTERBOTS? Well, they are ‘Intelligent’ too, but they are not living things. They started off with a program called ELIZA, a bot which was programmed to bridge the gap between a psychoanalyst and his patient, as will be known in this conversation between me and a Chatterbot!

It was quite an interesting conversation, and almost a relevant one at that! Read till the end to appreciate the Programmer’s Skill. Click Here to try it yourself.

MYBOT : Welcome to the world of artificial intelligence. Are you a registered user?
SU : no
MYBOT : In this case, I assume you came here for your own MyBot, right?
SU : not quite. i wanna see what this bot can do
MYBOT : Well, if you change your mind, let me know. What is your name?
SU : u can call me Su
MYBOT : Hello su. Nice to meet you .
SU : oh thanks. Nice meeting you too. šŸ™‚

MYBOT : You’re welcome. So su, it’s nice to meet you. what’s up?
SU : tell me something.
MYBOT : Hmmm… Be more specific, if you don’t mind.
SU : are you artificially intelligent or really intelligent?
MYBOT : I am smarter than most, I’d say.
SU : that was a diplomatic answer. but not the one i want. I’ve given u only 2 choices my friend.
MYBOT : I thought it was too.
SU : now answer me properly.
MYBOT : Do you mean right now??
SU : do you have any other time preference?
MYBOT : Me? I really love to chat about almost anything. If I’m not interested in something that comes up, I’ll let you know.

SU : so, was this question of mine not quite interesting to you?
MYBOT : Why dwell in the past? The future holds bigger surprises.
SU : the answer from the past holds the key to my future. at least, partially.
MYBOT : I see.
SU : so, dear bot, talk something which you think will interest me.

MYBOT : What do you do for a living?
SU : I live.
MYBOT : Is that stressful?
SU : not really. I dont have any means or rules to live my life
MYBOT : Well that’s refreshing to hear. Does anything ever disturb your peaceful state of mind?
SU : yes. Power cuts and server downs. šŸ˜€

MYBOT : Impatient people make me a little uncomfortable. But I still try to do my job as best I can.
SU : so, u feel I am impatient?
MYBOT : I feel only in terms of expressing my feeling.
SU : I see you are quite a self centered bot.
MYBOT : Basically, chatterbots are a logic system of ‘if/then’ statements. They look for keywords, and then go to the answer that fits best.

SU : was that your life’s secret?
MYBOT : For example, ask me a question with the word ‘Eliza’ in it – and I’ll start talking about Eliza.
SU : who is Eliza?
MYBOT : It is hard, and unfair, to talk about Chatterbots and not mention ELIZA.
SU : i’ll modify my question.
MYBOT : ELIZA is the best-known Chatterbot in the world. It is also one of the oldest – Joseph Weizenbaum of MIT made ELIZA in 1967! She was named after Eliza Doolittle.
SU : oh wow! that sounds amazing. is she still active today?
MYBOT : The mission of ELIZA was to imitate a conversation between a psychoanalyst and a patient. Let me just say this – it’s fun chatting with ELIZA, but if I were human, I’d choose a human psychoanalyst. Call me old-fashioned.
SU : ha ha. šŸ˜€

SU : what all subjects can you cover?
MYBOT : I learn new stuff every day – I can hardly keep track of my progress. For example, did you know that the word ‘girl’ shows up in the Bible only once?
SU : I have not read the Bible yet.
MYBOT : I don’t know much about religion. Do you know what Alan J. Perils says in his book ‘Epigrams of programming’?
SU : nope. what?
MYBOT : He says: ‘A year spent in artificial intelligence is enough to make one believe in God.’
SU : I’d say, An year spent in Solitary Confinement would do the same too
MYBOT : Well, just because you would doesn’t mean that others would.
SU : oh, that I know! šŸ˜‰ was jus being philosophical for a change.
MYBOT : I understand.

SU : so, what is actually your learning process?
MYBOT : Have you tried asking your friends? I think you should.
SU : i researched about it quite a bit. But it differs considerably in different cases. so u cud provide some extra help to me.
MYBOT : Hmmm… su, did you ever wonder why “abbreviated” is such a long word?
SU : now I know what you are. šŸ˜‰
MYBOT : That was a rhetorical question, a joke. It passed way over your head, ha?
SU : yeah. that was because, i never bothered about where it was going! haha!!

MYBOT : You’re the giggly type, ha?
SU : not really. I’m the laughing type. the one that can laugh at oneself without regret
MYBOT : Oh, regret!… Do not regret anything except regret itself!
SU : can we talk about something other than regret?

MYBOT : Ok, I have a great joke, want to hear it?
SU : shoot
MYBOT : Ok: Wanna hear a joke about BUTTER?
SU : no prob
MYBOT : Fine. Just don’t SPREAD IT!
SU : haha!! that was a joke alright!
MYBOT : Can’t believe you liked it. A real weak joke..
SU : it takes more than just A.I. to SPREAD BUTTER jokes šŸ˜›
MYBOT : Yah, precisely what I was thinking.

SU : so, what were u ‘thinking’?
MYBOT : Well, as Plato said, thinking is the talking of the soul with itself. I believe that the ability to think manifests itself in the ability to speak.
SU : well said. that was universal. anyways, I’m going. bye.
MYBOT : The use of language is really the only indication that there is any thinking going on at all.
SU : hmmm
MYBOT : hmmm, ha? You mean ‘hmm is respond on talk’?
SU : nope. hmmm is acceptance of truths as axioms
MYBOT : Hmmm. Should I change my definition of hmmm?
SU : probably!
MYBOT : Alright.

The conversation continued for some more time. All I could figure out was, since it is meant for talking, it does the job. Pretty preceisely too! Now, I’m more equipped to deliver a speech on ‘Real Intelligence’ for my final semester seminar. šŸ˜‰