Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tech Thoughts

I have just started reading Nicholas Carr’s book, The Big Switch. The author points out an interesting fact that technology and economics go hand in hand. With economies of scale the cost of a certain technology is cheaper.

I noticed today that the reverse is also true. Technology that is now considered to be antiquated is now more costly than ever before. How do I know? I came across a new LP record selling for almost Rs. 2000 (that’s almost 44 USD). A music CD these days is sold at around Rs. 300 to Rs 400. Better tech at what seems to be a parsley sum me thinks.

So how does this relate to Moore’s law? The law for those of you who have never heard of it states that the number of transistors that can be placed inexpensively on an integrated circuit has doubled approximately every two years. Basically every two years you see a quantum leap in computing power. So by Moore’s law more and more gadgets are becoming obsolete faster and by the corollary I’ve derived from Nicholas Carr’s book, this gets more and more expensive as the days go by.

Maybe these are the twisted forces at work that ensure you always upgrade. A system that forces mankind to adopt new technology ensuring that obsolete technology is junked and we take bold steps forward into the future.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Taking Chat Roulette out for a spin!

I recently wrote an article about how social are we on social networks. A few days later I came across an article in the local newspaper about a site called chat roulette. Intrigued I decided to check it out. The site takes a new spin to the age-old chat room. Instead of connecting to a room of people, you spend your time randomly connecting to one person or other. If you like what you see, start chatting. These chat sessions are completely anonymous and meaningless! It is like running into someone at a local coffee shop. A fleeting glance and you are gone.

 A little reading around on the internet and I was amazed to realise that this site is supposedly the invention of a 17 year old. If so, you have to hand it to him for originality to say the least. Think of chat roulette as the internet’s answer to speed dating. Combine that with the speed of the internet means that your average speed date is going to last a mere seconds.

If anyone ever had, any doubt that we live in a shallow world that judges everything by appearances this site is definitely proof! As an advertising professional, the age-old truth bares its ugly head here. It is all in the packaging! The site uses Flash’s ability to capture streaming video from your webcam.  Though minimalistic in design, the site does what it is designed for.  Yet the site is definitely in demand with it being barely able to cope with the load.

Is it a way to meet new people and network online? Only if you believe in serendipity and the odds of that happening are quite rare! Chances are you will just get a cultural snapshot of the thousands of weird people that habit the internet. However, I did run into a student studying avionics with the US Air force and managed a decent tete a tete with him. The other person who seemed interesting got disconnected due to a bad connection. This does seem to be a problem with the site, or probably a testament to its popularity. The site can be quite slow at times. The same person mentioned Omegle to me. I didn’t quite get it at the time. The next day I was curious about how unique this concept was. I came across a few interesting articles and mention of Omegle, which is chat roulette without the webcam. The articles included one about why Chat roulette was worth a try and even an insightful one by the associated press.

What chat roulette does do though is make some of us become innovative with a webcam. I have seen people in V for Vendetta masks, fish tanks and a person who was keeping score to see if anyone would turn their head to see the message he had scribbled on a pad. There was even one camera focused on the person’s computer screen. Something like looking into a mirror. My creative contribution was to prop my Optimus Prime next to the web cam and have him point at the camera. It did get one or two favourable replies :D