Sunday, March 20, 2005


Yahoo! completed 10 years on 3rd March.
Yahoo!, which started off as a search-engine has now diversified into many areas, so that it is not perceived any more as specialising in any single vertical. Meanwhile Google has beaten Yahoo! as the top search engine.

Yahoo! is remarkable in that it has survived the dotcom bubble and the meltdown of the Internet during early 2000. When many search engines and web startups such as Altavista, Excite, Lycos,, Snap etc fell down by the wayside, Yahoo! is still going strong with a 50 billion $ market cap.

Google has been the leader in taking new technologies to the market, with Yahoo! being forced to follow-up. The new Yahoo! search has borrowed a lot of concepts from the Google, not just the look n feel. Google has been the pioneer in broadening the search market from simple keyword/directory search to specific search verticals such as newsgroup search, image search, catalog search, product search, scholar search, news search, video search etc.

However Yahoo! has improved their search tremendously since they parted ways with Google last year. Though forced to do catch-up, Yahoo! seems to be doing a good job of it now a days, with Microsoft tagging along.

So who will win the search war ultimately? One yer back I would have confidently said "Google" (Yahoo! who?) but not anymore. The field is wide open once more.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Microsoft gets "Groovy"

Microsoft recently acquired Groove Networks and Ray Ozzie in one shot. Ozzie will become one of the three CTOs at Microsoft, taking care of collaborative software, for the evil empire.

So what is the big deal? From Microsoft point of view, it is another one of the acquisitions which appears to give an "edge" to its products. Groove is basically a peer to peer computing system over a secure internet connection which allows people to share documents over a network, creating a kind of virtual office. Microsoft has been an early investor in Groove, providing it funding as early as 2001. Ozzie has also aligned himself nicely with Microsoft since his days as the chief architect of Lotus Notes at IBM. Thus the acquisition is not a big surprise at all.

Ozzie has been successful in aligning his software ideas with the biggies in the game, since 1984. He worked for Lotus in developing Lotus Notes and later on continued his work at IBM, when IBM acquired Lotus. He left Lotus and IBM to start Groove in 1997 and aligned his work with Microsoft. Bill Gates, who is not too lavish in encomiums, have praised Ozzie as one of the best programmers in the universe. However tall that might sound to be, one has to accept that Ozzie is a shrewd guy with his software, and knows to position himself correctly in the market.

Ozzie is surely one of the most influential programmers of the 90s and can be credited with inventing the groupware class of software products, along with pioneers such as Mitch Kapor. It will be interesting to see how his ideas and vision will work at Microsoft, and whether the addition of Ozzie as CTO, will improve the technical quality of Microsoft products in areas where they lack sorely such as security. Ozzie has had a lot of success as an independent programmer and team leader, but it remains to be seen how that experience helps in shaping the future of collaborative software at a company of the size of Microsoft.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Economics of the Bazaar

If you have been associated to opensource software in an intimate way, say as a programmer, business developer or the marketing/sales person, you must have asked yourself this question at some point.

"How can opensource software be a viable business? How do you make money by creating software whose source code is free?"

Bruce Perens, one of the founders of the OSI (Open Source Initiative) has some interesint insights on this. According to him, open source reduces the costs for your business IT infrastructure so that you save money which can be used for creating software that differentiates your business from others. In other words, you can spend your money on researching and developing your actual technology instead of spending it on buying up software infrastructure. The money you save becomes additional profit or can be spent on other areas where it is required.

Well I never looked at open source from that point of view. I think this comes from the my programmer's mindset where the focus is immediately set on the free and available source code rather than thinking about the economics behind it.

Bruce's article contrasts the open source model with other software development models and points out the benefits of the open source economy. The complete article can be found here. A must read for any open source afficianado.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Daily Python Url!

I am a regular reader of Daily Python Url which gives a snapshot of the daily happenings in the Python universe. It is powered by Blogger.

For the last week, the blog has been almost dead. I was getting the same old page, last posted on 3rd March. Today I came to know the reason :-)


(no posts? some editors are on vacation, the rest of us are just lazy. and blogger sucks. postings will resume shortly. stay tuned.)

Well guys, shrug off your laziness and get a fresh start! I think that the Daily Python Url is too important for the Python community to be given such a cold shoulder!

Monday, March 07, 2005

IBM Redux

I just finished reading the book "IBM Redux" by Doug Garr. The book is all about the business turn around by IBM in the last decade under the leadership of the previous CEO, Lou Gerstner.

The book is a great read on how corporations behave and gives many insights into how a gigantic corporation like IBM works. It is quite eloquent in its praise for Gerstner, though his not-so-amiable personality and ego-centric nature is pointed out as personal drawbacks. However, the book lays no doubt on who is responsible for the bounce back by IBM from the bottomless quagmire it found itself in the beginning of the 90s.

It also has a few interesting anecdotes such as IBM's role in the 1994 Atlanta Olympics and the PR disaster which ensued. A few pages are also devoted to the much hyped Garry Kasparov - Deep Blue face-off in 1997.

The book follows a rather chronological style, starting from the events that lead to Gerstner's heading IBM, and ending with the peak of Gerstner's rule at 1999, when he is sitting pretty at the top and is percieved widely as the saviour of IBM. The author follows the style of chipping in with a few anecdotes and history pieces here and there which sometimes is against the flow of reading. However, he cannot be charged on missing out a single piece of event which impacted the computer & software technology landscape during 1993-1999, where IBM played a part, either as the vanquisher or as the vanquished (Remember OS/2 Anyone?).

All in all a good read and a book recommended to anyone interested in the history of technology.

Some links worth reading about Lou Gerstner and his life.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The BangPypers

First of all, the introduction -> The BangPypers are a group of Python enthusiasts in the city of Bangalore where I live.

How did BangPypers come into being? It all started on Dec 27 2004, when I was browsing the Daily Python Url blog and saw a post mentioning that "Chennai Python Meetup is on...". I followed the link and found out about the site. I was surprised to learn that there were already many Python meetup groups at the site Well I mused that if the Chennaites can come up with a Python meetup group, the Bangaloreans can come up with one too and do it in a better manner, considering that Bangalore is the tech hub of India.

I scourged the python meetup site for any Bangalore Python meetup groups. There was one, a dysfunctional group that called themselves "Bengalru Python meetup group" with 5 members and looking for an organizer. I initially joined them and posted a message.

The next day, I checked the site. There was no reply for my post and I realized that the group was quite dead. Bengaluru might be the original name of Bangalore in Kannada, but it is of course more popular and better known as "Bangalore" itself.

I created the "Bangalore Python meetup group" on Dec 28. The first few members to join were my friends who I invited - Anish Damodaran, Indrajith. I also sent an invitation to Premshree Pillai and posted in comp.lang.python about the news.

There was good response over the many days that followed with 16 members joining till Jan 7 2005. Swaroop published about the group in his blog on Jan 7th and the response increased, which shows the popularity of his blog. I have captured some interesting statistics on this in a post to the BangPypers group.

We had the first meeting at Ebony Restaurant, Barton Center, M.G Road on Jan 22nd. 10 guys including me attended. We decided to form the Yahoo! group and also a website. The idea for Project Uraga was also born. It was a fun night, though I had some personal expenditure which I expect the group to make up over time. :-)

I created the Y! group with the name "BangPypers" on 24 Jan 2005. We have a lot of activity in the group and it still must be one of the Yahoo! groups with the highest traffic. The group currently has 75 members most of who are in Bangalore. There are a sizeable number of non-Bangaloreans too. The first month had 101 messages, Feb had a whopping 364 messages! March has just started and we already have 25 messages over the last 4 days.

We had the first "technical meetup" of the group at ThoughtWorks on Feb 19 2005. You can read all about it here .

A website at is also registered. Many thanks to Ramdas S of Developer IQ for doing the same. The website work has not started off however. We also have a Google group of the same name. All posts to Y! BangPypers gets mirrored to the Google BangPypers.

If you love Python and you are a Bangalorean, you should join BangPypers :-) . Well, you are invited to join even if you are a non-Bangalorean. BangPypers is the second biggest Python meetup group in the world, so we are on the world-map of Python, just like Bangalore is on the world-map for technology.

My Blog is up!

After trying to set up a number of blogs on many different sites, I have finally found time
and patience to create a blog of my own... hip hip hooray!

The setup is not complete. You can find details about me and my work once I set it up properly.