Is The Planned Blackberry Blackout On Sunday "Routine Maintenance"?

Blackberry subscribers on some Indian wireless operators such as AirTel & Vodafone, received notifications today from their providers’ corporate services departments informing them that Blackberry services would be unavailable on Sunday morning between 0730h and 1130h.

While RIM declined to comment, some of the operators we contacted, said it was “routine maintenance.”

Vodafone’s technical helpdesk said that it was an annual maintenance operation, originally scheduled for January which got shifted to March. A representative said that RIM chose the time after conducting a survey and determining the lowest email period.

A spokesperson for Airtel said that RIM had informed them it was routine outage, involving other parts of South East Asia apart from India. She further added that AirTel did not expect the actual outage period to last more than an hour.

A senior tech executive at Reliance Communications said that the company was earlier intimated about an outage and that they had informed their subscribers that Blackberry services would be unavailable on Sunday morning between 0730h and 1130h.

While it’s highly likely that this is indeed a normal infrastructure upgrade drill, the recent government threat to blackout the service adds a twist to the tale. Telecom Secretary S Behura, yesterday said that there was no question of a ban , though some of the “solutions” being discussed such as deployment of “mirror servers” are already raising eyebrows.

Moreover, today’s Business Standard reports :

DoT, however, pointed out that due to home ministry objections it had already informed all operators to stop Blackberry services by the end of December. However, responding to requests, operators were given a three-month extension, which ends in March.

The conflicting reports from operators and RIM’s silence seems to suggest that there could be more to this “routine maintenance” than meets the eye.

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Ubuntu tops desktop, server Linux enthusiast poll

Ubuntu is the favourite distribution of Linux for use on both desktops and servers, according to a poll of Australian open source enthusiasts.

The survey, which was conducted by Sydney-based consultancy Waugh Partners, also found that Queensland is the best state in which to study open source and proprietary source developers are paid less than their open source counterparts.

In a video interview conducted at in Melbourne last month, Jeff and Pia Waugh of Waugh Partners revealed some initial trends from the survey’s findings.

The survey showed that Ubuntu came top, followed by Fedora, Red Hat Enterprise Linux and then SUSE.

Jeff Waugh said it wasn’t difficult to see why Ubuntu was so popular: “They have done a very good job of [making a product of] a very sexy, simple desktop. It comes on one CD, it’s easy to install, it comes with great hardware support and it’s easy to use.”

The survey also revealed which universities produced the most open source enthusiasts. Waugh Partners found that Queensland University of Technology came first, followed by the University of Sydney. RMIT and UNSW were under-represented.

“I was quite surprised that the University of Sydney was second, I actually went there but all of my friends — who were great open source hackers — went to the University of New South Wales,” said Jeff Waugh.

The survey also found that by taking an interest in open source software, enthusiasts quickly found paid work — and often got paid more than they would have if developing proprietary code

“You can see a direct correlation between coming into the community and getting industry employment,” said Pia Waugh, adding that not only does involvement in the open source community result in greater employment prospects, but the likelihood of a better position upon entering the workforce.

“Open Source developers get paid more than propriety software developers,” Jeff Waugh told, “so that’s pretty sweet.”

The survey covered 327 participants, and was sponsored by Fujitsu, IBM and NICTA. Only seven percent — or 23 — of respondents were female.

The complete survey results, which will include respondents that develop open source software for a living, will be released in March.

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Apple Launches MacBook Air in India

Apple today unveiled what’s claimed to be the world’s thinnest notebook, the MacBook Air, in India.

Angeline Tan, product marketing manager of Apple, introduced the notebook here, which measures 4 mm at its thinnest point.

The MacBook Air was first launched at the MacWorld expo in San Francisco on January 15.

In India, it will ship in two weeks through Apple authorized resellers and dealers for a suggested retail price of Rs 96,100 ($2,421).

The features of the MacBook Air include a 13.3-inch liquid crystal display, a full-size backlit keyboard and a built-in video camera.

MacBook Air delivers up to five hours of battery life and includes Wi-Fi networking.

With an Intel Core 2 Duo processor with 1.6 or 1.8 GHz of processing power, Apple’s standard model contains a 1.8-inch hard drive offering 80GB of storage.

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Can Microsoft-Yahoo Combo Topple Google?

After my last post on the same topic abt Microsoft acquiring yahoo…….the main question arising in most ppls mind is that Can Microsoft-Yahoo Combo Topple Google?

so here is the ans to it posted on tech2

Unable to topple Google Inc. on its own, Microsoft Corp. is trying to force crippled rival Yahoo Inc. into a shotgun marriage, with a wager worth nearly $42 billion that the two companies together will have a better chance of tackling the Internet search leader.

Microsoft’s audacious attempt to buy Yahoo, spelled out in an unsolicited offer announced Friday, shows just how much Google threatens the world’s largest software maker’s grip on how people interact with computers.

For Yahoo, the bid represents another painful reminder of how missed opportunities and mismanagement combined to open the door for Google to supplant it as the Internet’s main gateway, decimating its stock price in the process.

Microsoft is trying to avoid a similar fate at Google’s hands as more people access services and computer programs online instead of relying on packaged software applications.

Although Microsoft remains the world’s most valuable technology company, its position will become more precarious unless it can cultivate a more loyal Internet audience and generate more online ad revenue to subsidize the free services taken for granted on the Internet.

Microsoft executives did not indicate Friday exactly what they would do with Yahoo’s brand if their bid, now valued at $42 billion, is accepted. But analysts expect the combined companies to preserve many of their separate free services, like instant-messaging and email programs.

A more likely medium-term change is that some of Microsoft’s Web content could fade away or get added to Yahoo, which has a vast collection of news and features aggregated from other providers

Microsoft’s web properties, including its Yahoo-like MSN portal, aren’t exactly slouches: they rank third, trailing only Yahoo and Google, in total visitors. But while Yahoo still is profitable, Microsoft’s online services are a consistent money loser. The MSN search engine is a laggard, even with recent efforts to soup it up under Microsoft’s online umbrella it calls ‘Live’.

Having Yahoo in its tent could give Microsoft a rationalization for abandoning its unprofitable online elements. “I think MSN folds into Yahoo,” said Ian Campbell, CEO of Nucleus Research. “It would be foolish to keep that separate.”

Perhaps the biggest change Microsoft and Yahoo could achieve together would be creating a better way to combine the web and desktop computing – not to mention cell phones, TVs, cars and any other gadgets that might someday plug into the Internet.

Consumers who access the Web on cell phones and handheld computers might be the first to find something new as a result of a Microsoft-Yahoo combination. Devices that run Microsoft’s Windows Mobile OS could be better integrated with Yahoo content and possibly yield new services, like social networking functions.

New ideas will be key to compete with Google’s web presence. After all, people don’t ‘Microsoft’ or ‘Yahoo’ anything. Microsoft in particular tends to be tolerated more than loved. Google is also leading development of an alternative cellphone OS it calls Android.

Eventually, a teamed-up Yahoo and Microsoft might be able to rethink the PC desktop – where Windows still runs 90 percent of the world’s PCs – so that Internet data such as stock prices, sports scores and weather are automatically baked in.

Microsoft might also use Yahoo’s online strengths to galvanize web-based versions of some of its powerful desktop software applications, like Word and Excel.
Open-source rivals and Google are threatening to bite into Microsoft’s lucrative Office software franchise with free versions of those kinds of ‘productivity’ software. Microsoft is developing web-based versions of its own, but slowly.

Open-source rivals and Google are threatening to bite into Microsoft’s lucrative Office software franchise with free versions of those kinds of ‘productivity’ software. Microsoft is developing web-based versions of its own, but slowly.

Now Yahoo could be the face through which Microsoft offers those online applications. Perhaps one day a Microsoft-fueled package of ‘Yahoo Apps’ will go up against ‘Google Apps’.

Even with these possibilities, analyst David Mitchell Smith, a vice president at Gartner Inc., believes the biggest change from a Microsoft-Yahoo deal probably will be the one most web surfers don’t notice. That will come as the companies try to broaden their ability to deliver ads all over the Internet, wherever it reaches.

It’s necessary because being the most popular online destination (as Yahoo already is) is no longer enough. The explosion of blogs, video sites and other user-generated content has made Internet travels more wide-ranging. As a result, the biggest Internet companies now need their ad networks to reach far beyond their home portals.

Google has clearly mastered that, while Microsoft and Yahoo have not

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Microsoft offers to buy Yahoo! for $44.6 bn

Microsoft has offered to buy Yahoo! for USD 31 per share, reports CNBC-TV18. The offer represents USD 44.6 billion equity value which is at a premium of 62% over Thursday’s close. The software major feels Yahoo! has significant upside potential.

Microsoft and Yahoo! explored working together in late 2006. The offer is not subject to any financing condition. It expects Yahoo’s board to fully review the proposal.

“At USD 31, it becomes a no-brainer. You got to think of how do you not take that. Having said that, that is going to be the game theory going forward. Can Yahoo somehow force them up? If you look at the letter, they have been looking at this compnay, at the USD 20 range. Now, they are close to their lows and they almost have to say yes. It is more an issue of can Microsoft actually make this work. Culturally, this isn’t something that MS has done well putting the business together,” said Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times.

Surya Mantha, CEO, Web18, said if the deal goes through it will give Microsoft access to terrific engineering capability, great set of services that are quite successful whether it is email or instant messenger, and a great team and brand.

Excerpts from the exclusive interview with Surya Mantha:

Q: What’s in it for Microsoft? Why does it so badly want Yahoo?

A: This has been on the cards for a while. It has been talked about for at least one and half years and Microsoft while is a very successful company on the desktop software and service software front, has been broadly struggling on the internet side whether it is with MSN or with their search platform. So this is something that is really good for Microsoft. It gives them a terrific engineering capability, great set of services that are quite successful, whether it is email, IM, great team and a great brand

Q: Last year, Yahoo! at the start of the year, launched this new advertising platform called Panama. In fact, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in his open letter to the board of directors of Yahoo! says, when we talked about this last year, you guys were very enthusiastic about Panama. One year down the line, it doesn’t seem to have made quite the impact. Is that a fair assessment or do you think it needs more time?

A: It is a fair assessment, if you take that 12 months have passed. Now, does it need more time? I would think so, because you are competing against Google, which is just a behemoth, and it is on all 12 cylinders and it is one of the fiercest competitors out there. So, I think this is good as well as bad for competition. It is good for competition because now someone can give Google a good run for its money, if Microsoft and Yahoo! combine their engineering forces, and marketing and so forth. But it also consolidates players, so in that sense you have one less major player. But there are huge challenges. It is not a slam-dunk for Microsoft and Yahoo!.

Q: One would argue that these are two massive companies with very different cultures. Do you think that would pose some problems for a merger?

A: Absolutely, integration here is the key. One is based in Redmond and the other is based in Silicon Valley. The two have very different cultures. One is a desktop software applications company. The other is a pure internet services company. It is not just a question of integrating teams and cultures, what do you do with the brands? Is it going to be Hotmail or Yahoo mail? What do you do with instant messenger and so on? So, there are a whole lot of naughty issues that are in no way easy to solve. It will probably take a fair bit of time, assuming that all this happens, for the integration to happen and for us to see results on the product front.

Q: Is this whole World Wide Web war becoming rest of the world versus Google because we have seen Microsoft taking a stake in Facebook as well? It seems everybody who has a competing product with Google is trying to line-up into one grand alliance?

A: It would appear that way. But one should also keep in mind that MySpace and Facebook showed up from nowhere. They were neither Yahoo! nor Microsoft nor Google. Facebook in particular was started by a couple of college students and now they are one of the most valued companies.

Q: Will there be any immediate impact on the Indian space? From a broader perspective, will this have ripples in India as well as far as the online advertising market is concerned?

A: Not in the near-term. MSN has not been very active compared to its peers like Yahoo! and Google. I don’t see a huge impact in a 6-12 months timeframe.

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Yahoo throws weight behind OpenID standard

In one of the most significant moves yet in the growing push toward service interoperability on the Web, tech giant Yahoo announced Thursday that it is supporting the OpenID 2.0 standard for a universal Internet log-in.

No matter what your views of Yahoo’s current stability may be, this is undoubtedly a big victory for OpenID. Not so long ago, the protocol was considered a dot-com/futurist pipe dream. OpenID was created by Web 2.0 guru Brad Fitzpatrick, who founded LiveJournal and was brought on board at Google last year as one of the most prominent players in its OpenSocial developer initiative.

OpenID is designed to facilitate single log-ins for multiple unaffiliated Web sites. Gradually, large sites like AOL and Plaxo have begun supporting the standard, but it remains a tool for the Web’s early-adopter set rather than the online community at large.

But recently, fueled by debate over social-networking interoperability, universal standards have been one of the most buzzed-about subjects in Web 2.0.

Yahoo, which counts its registered users at 248 million worldwide, says that supporting OpenID will mean that OpenID-compatible accounts are available to a total of 368 million Web users. When Yahoo’s support of OpenID goes live, starting with a public beta launch on January 30, this will mean that a Yahoo ID can be consolidated into an OpenID account that will be valid at all partner sites.

On the flip side, sites that accept OpenID will have the option of displaying a “Sign in with your Yahoo ID” button.

As more major Web players start to sign onto OpenID–and more casual Internet users start using the standard–there will inevitably be security concerns raised. Since OpenID has no central repository for identity management, users can choose which sites they trust with their OpenIDs. But that doesn’t mean they’re going to always make the right decisions. Sometime in the not-so-distant future, an incident or two will likely surface that will call into question just what universal standards mean for privacy and personal security on the Web.

This is an area to watch.

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