Friday, September 30, 2005

100 Dollar Laptop is a Stupid Idea

The $100 laptop idea is being promoted by the venerable Nicholas Negroponte, head of the MIT Media Lab. It is also strikingly similar to Larry Ellison's idea of the network computer from almost exactly a decade ago.

What can a $1000 laptop do that the $100 version can't?
Not much. The plan is for the $100 Laptop to do almost everything. What it will not do is store a massive amount of data.

The network computer idea has been updated:
But that does not make it any better:
The $100 laptop from MIT reminds me of the Simputer idea from the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) Bangalore. The Simputer was a PDA designed for Indian farmers. It was going to cost $200 (cheaper than some of the better PDAs of the time), and would run - guess what - Linux. It was going to change the world. It would also have WiFi, Bluetooth, USB etc.

Contrast these flops with an idea that has worked, and worked spectacularly - the mobile phone. Cell phones are everywhere - Indian fishermen, Chinese farmers, they all have it. Cell phones have transformed people's lives and vocations. Cell phone charges are lower in India than anywhere in Europe or US. There is tons of cell phone innovation happening in Microsoft and Motorola's labs in China and India, geared towards cell phone users in the Third World as well as the First.

Do-gooders beware: if an idea does not work in the First World (network computer, Linux PDA), it is unlikely to work in the Third World.

Free Access to NYT Columnists

Ever since the New York Times decided to start charging for its Op-Ed columns, I've noticed that the top searches at Technorati are the names of NYT columnists. :) Currently, the most-searched items are "David Brooks," "Maureen Dowd," "Paul Krugman" and so on.

I think few readers would miss anything else on NYT other than their Op-Ed columns. I doubt if these readers (like me) will pay anything for them. But I assume NYT has done their homework.

Faulkner @ Oprah Book Club

Apparently Oprah had 'A Summer of Faulkner' at her Book Club. Slate calls it an inspired match.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Super Series: Australia vs the World

This series would have been interesting if Australians were ruling the world of cricket. But they've been bested by England, so why this farce?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005


I did not enjoy Dubliners. Maybe I should have read the book, instead of listening to it on tape. All the stories had a tragic or semi-tragic ending. I don't like sad stories.

Steve Waugh for India's Coach

Now that's an utterly brilliant idea!

Hypochondriac Captain, Showboat Coach, Unfit Players

God help the Indian cricket team! This team should aim for a good performance in 2011, forget the 2007 World Cup.

Other teams are all beginning to peak and perform well. England, Australia, Sri Lanka are already in an excellent shape and are improving. Pakistan and S. Africa are, as their coaches would say, 'on the right track.' You never know about the Kiwis. The Indian team can, at most, hope to beat West Indies and Zimbabwe in 2007.

Monday, September 26, 2005

John Roberts continues to baffle

Chester sent this link which basically says, "May the real John Roberts please stand up?"

While John Roberts was almost inscrutable in his C-SPAN performance in front of the Senate committee, it seems to me that a lot of people in DC probably have a pretty good idea about his character and his values and all.

But the media hides all those things from us, and gives us the slick , meaningless package on C-SPAN. Folks in the know about these things don't blog - it's not in their interest - so we don't see the real picture, and are stuck with the farcical spectacle they put on.

The Indian cricket team is better - they leak juicy emails at least.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Ganguly might survive!

Ganguly might survive until the World Cup and thereafter - holy cow! A lot of people are 'batting' for him, seems like. Wonder why. He's obviously way over the top. Check out Chappell's email to the Board. It is a classic, and goes to show how utterly ridiculously unprofessional these top cricketers are. The 'golden era' of John Wright's comes under criticism too:

This team has been made to be fearful and distrusting by the rumour mongering and deceit that is Sourav's modus operandi of divide and rule. Certain players have been treated with favour, all of them bowlers, while others have been shunted up and down the order or left out of the team to suit Sourav's whims.

John Wright obviously allowed this to go on to the detriment of the team. I am not prepared to sit back and allow this to continue or we will get the same results we have been seeing for some time now.

Hurricanes vs floods

The US is pretty good at handling hurricanes, Katrina notwithstanding. The hurricane effects of Katrina were fairly minimal. The problem in New Orleans was the flood that started after Katrina had passed. Yes, the flood was caused by Katrina, but as the details slowly emerge, it seems like the levees were designed to withstand a Katrina-like hurricane. They just weren't maintained well enough.

US should not make too many wholesale changes to disaster response plans. The role of the military should be clarified, not necessarily expanded. DHS should be sorted out before it becomes a joke among the public.

Katrina has revealed the deadly nature of urban poverty, and the utter incompetence of politicians at every level of government (mayor of New Orleans, governor of Louisiana, Bush, ...). Can America do anything about it? Will they?

Chappell v Ganguly

I thought Chappell and Ganguly were best friends. Didn't Ganguly go to Australia to get Chappell's advice that helped him return to form previously? Wonder what went wrong.

It shouldn't even be a matter of debate - Ganguly has to go. What a ridiculous farce!

Dubliners so far

I am through with 5 of the 7 cassettes in the Dubliners set. Dubliners is a set of short stories from Joyce. Set in the early 20th century, it doesn't intend to entertain as much as describe the conditions of people living in various social strata. There are some funny bits, but other than that, the stories are not particularly interesting.

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