Boston nervousness can’t stop Bengaluru

Not only Barack Obama but his predecessors were worried about Indians and Chinese dominating the work places of America. This trouble was self-inflicted by Americans. A casual approach to everything tripped American society, economy, culture and polity.  In order to rescue the American society it is important to ensure seriousness in schools, colleges and universities. Unless and until this is done Bengaluru and Shanghai will continue to dominate the American empire.

 

US President Barack Obama has exhorted American students to toil harder at school, saying their success would determine the country’s leadership in a world where children in Bengaluru and Beijing were raring to race ahead.

Obama has repeatedly said that American schools would have to ensure that they continue producing leagues of top professionals, so that the American hegemony in human resource continues in this century.

“At a time when other countries are competing with us like never before, when students around the world in Beijing, China, or Bangalore, India, are working harder than ever, and doing better than ever, your success in school is not just going to determine your success, it’s going to determine America’s success in the 21st century,” Obama said.

“The farther you go in school, the farther you’re going to go in life,” he told students at a school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

In 2009, while announcing an end of tax incentives to US companies which created jobs overseas, Obama had launched the “Say no to Bangalore and yes to Buffalo” slogan.

Since then, he has time and again mentioned the competition coming in from developing countries like China and India while asking Americans to rise to the challenge to keep the American supremacy alive.

“…You’ve got an obligation to yourselves, and America has an obligation to you, to make sure you’re getting the best education possible,” Obama said in his latest remarks.

He said preparing the students for success in classroom, college and career would also require an enormous collective effort of teachers, principals as well as the administration.

“It’s going to take outstanding principal and outstanding teachers who are going above and beyond the call of duty for their students,” he said. Asking the students to work harder than everybody else and seek out new challenges, he said his call was directed at all Americans alike.

“… I’m not just speaking to all of you, I’m speaking to kids all across the country. And I want them to all here that same message: That’s the kind of excellence we’ve got to promote in all of America’s schools,” Obama said.

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Technology for Better Use

digitaleducationTechnology like other inventions are doomed by anti modern folks. Now it is up to the people to use it for the right purpose.

Andrew Brown writes in The Hindu (2 July 2009),

Last year, Nick Carr wrote a forceful article for the Atlantic magazine, arguing that Google was making us stupid (http://bit.ly/google32). It’s not just Google, of course, but the whole chaotic wave of technology that seems to be sweeping us into the future, surrounded and sometimes battered by the flotsam and wreckage of old certainties. And that was before Twitter hit the big time.

This month’s issue of the magazine has a riposte by Jamais Cascio, who has spent a long time in the future, and who believes that technology has already made us enormously smarter (http://bit.ly/google33). This won’t happen, he says, because of the kind of dramatic stuff that crops up in conventional speculation, like digital brain implants. No, it is all around us already, in the web and all the things that it lets us do. The trouble is the things the web lets us do aren’t actually all that intelligent. Cascio gets round this by redefining intelligence as “fluid.”

Fluid intelligence, he says, is defined as: “The ability to find meaning in confusion and to solve new problems, independent of acquired knowledge. Fluid intelligence doesn’t look much like the capacity to memorise and recite facts, the skills that people have traditionally associated with brainpower. [But] the information sea isn’t going to dry up, and relying on cognitive habits evolved and perfected in an era of limited information flow — and limited information access — is futile. Strengthening our fluid intelligence is the only viable approach to navigating the age of constant connectivity.” We’ve heard this before, and more pithily, when the borg queen said resistance was futile. But it doesn’t have to be boiled down. You can get a detailed version into something scarcely longer than a tweet: “Sure, we can’t read or write complicated sentences, and nobody can remember anything for longer than it takes to cut and paste but what does this matter when we have ‘fluid intelligence?’”

This kind of optimism depends on a number of assumptions and stereotypes. It depends on an absurd view of intelligence, as if there were nothing between automation and intuition. Of course there are circumstances in which following the old procedural rules no longer work. But they are the times when we need most to cultivate the habits of disciplined thought, to master the confusion. This kind of problem crops up constantly in armies, where disciplined and stereotyped behaviour is both essential and sometimes lethal. Armies value two qualities in their officers besides leadership: initiative, and the capacity to recognise the problems that need a new kind of solution — and distinguish them from those that don’t. Those are the skills that do the jobs that “fluid intelligence” is supposed to and neither skill depends on computer networks nor is much nourished by them.

The real problem with Cascio’s optimism is deeper and appears in his justified dismissal of most futuristic hype about brain implants and the like. Who would put the 2009 chip in their brain when in three years competitors would have upgraded to the 2012 version? This is a good question, but it should be carried further.

We don’t have to put chips in our brain to change the ways we think. All we need do is form new habits. Children brought up in front of the television have in effect rechipped their brains compared to those brought up only with books; and children brought up in front of computers are different again.

It follows that if we’ve been dumbed down by technology, we may be unable to recognise it. Students copying from Wikipedia think they are smarter than their parents, in the same way drunks think they are able to drive. But it’s important here to worry about the right things. It’s not the technology that damages our ability to think. It’s the habits of mind that technology promotes. The habits of disciplined, careful thought that linear reading promotes are more useful for understanding a changing world than the ability to pay superficial attention to five different streams of information. I don’t think computers make it more difficult. It has always been difficult. But if they allow us to pretend we don’t need it any more, then they are really helping us to become a lot more stupid, fluidly or not.

Open Source Future

opensource_logoOpen source sounds alturistic. If its promise is true the world will accept dumping the heavy profit making sources.

The Times of India interviews Jonathan Schwartz (22 June 2009)

The CPM has long supported the free software movement and launched a poll website based on such software. The BJP’s L K Advani recently threw his 
weight behind open source technologies. Jonathan Schwartz , CEO of Sun Microsystems, tells Sujit John that open source indeed is the future:

Is the rate of adoption of open source technologies growing?

It’s accelerating rapidly. And with economic pressures mounting, free enterprise software is looking more and more compelling. Open office, our free office productivity suite, is now downloaded 1,00,000 times a day. A year ago, it was half that. Downloads of Glassfish, our open source application server, has also doubled in the last one year, and that of MySQL, the open source database, has increased 30 per cent. This is partly because of our awareness campaigns, but more because of the IT budget cuts, which push you to look for the best free software available to run your business systems.

Where do you see the fastest adoptions?

The fastest adoptions are in places where there’s rapid economic expansion, good bandwidth and large student populations. We have seen some of the highest adoptions in India because of the first and third reasons. Universities are major seeding grounds for open source innovations. And when these students join the workforce or start their own companies, they disproportionately tend to select free software. We did a poll of 2,000 university students and found that less than 6 per cent knew Oracle database, but more than 90 per cent knew MySQL.

How are big companies and governments looking at it?

Hundred per cent of Fortune 500 companies are now using free software. Ten years ago that was barely 10 per cent. We see household names like Google, Yahoo, Sun being built entirely on free software. Governments have been amongst the most aggressive endorsers and users of open source software. Governments in developing countries especially have decided that they do not want to architect into their society a dependence on an American proprietary software company. For instance, governments are adopting open office as a means of escaping Microsoft Office. If every Indian citizen had to pay $500 for an Office suite, that’s good for Microsoft but not for India. We have seen this in India, Brazil, across Africa, the British government recently standardised on open source software.

How much is the overall cost advantage?

The initial cost of putting in free software, including service and support fees, will be just 15 to 20 per cent of proprietary software. A mid-size enterprise may run Oracle and pay $10 million a year for a database software. For an equivalent licence from Sun, they will pay $7,50,000 to $1 million. For application servers, we tend to be even less expensive. There’s a roughly 10:1 price advantage. And this year, we are at a point where we will achieve feature parity equivalent scale, quality and functionality with proprietary peers. Open source is generally more stable and better supported.

Electronic Pollution

electronic 

Modernization has brought a heavy pollution of Earth. There is no stopping of pollution. Different forms of pollutants have wreaked havoc. From air pollution to noise pollution to water pollution natural resources have been spoiled. In the post modern age there is a new and deadly form of pollution is silently shattering the nature. The intensity of electronic pollution is very strong. As more and more electronic gadgets are used, pollution coming from these equipments is destroying the human lives and atmosphere. Not only the current generation is suffering but also the generations to come will be made to pay heavily for the present mindless electronic pollution.

 

Above 200 million Internet searches everyday creates huge greenhouse gas emissions. The amount of electricity consumed and the less used electronic gadgets dumped are other pollution fuelling factors. A google search generates 7g of carbon dioxide. This is equivalent to boiling a cup of coffee in a keetle. One wonders why alternative source of energy like solar are not used for computer usage and other popular electronic usages.

 

John Buckley of Carbonfrootprint.com of Great Britain estimates that a Google search yields 1g to 10g of CO2. Personal computer operation per hour generates 40g to 80g of CO2 per hour.

 

Alex Wissner-Gross, a physicist in Harvard University is researching on the environmental impact of computing. He is concentrating on the amount of carbon di oxide and other polluting gas emissions from electronic gadgets. He says “Google operates huge centres around the world that consume a great deal of power”

 

Information technology and airline industries contribute 4% of the global CO2 emissions. When one types a word for search in google it goes to many computers which are competing against each other. Even it may reach servers across the world.

 

According to Wissner-Gross “Simple website viewing generates about 0.02g of CO2 per second. This rises about tenfold to about 0.2g of CO2 a second when viewing a website with complex images, animations or videos.

 

While these statistics sound horrific unconcerned usage of electronic gadgets are alarming eco warriors. The producers, consumers and advertisers of electronic goods should be reined in. They must be pressurized to introduce green technologies and minimize consumption of electronic gadgets. All these three players are equally responsible for the large-scale electronic pollution in the world.

 

Without an early action electronic pollution will pull the last pillar of the living earth. It seems that all are contributing for the harmful cause without any awareness. The inter-governmental panel on climate change, UN bodies, local governments, users are yet to embark on the electronic pollution control. Early it is done the better for the generations.

Censorship in the digital age

Digital technologies like Internet, mobile phone and computers banged the world with a claim to work freely. Suddenly there was an air of borderless world. Its popularity and power stunned the world nations. Governments lost track of digital power. Their radar of censorship got blocked by Internet. Information was flowing freely from anywhere to everywhere.

At one point of time there was a global movement try to control the world affairs. What was started in Brazil under the banner of World Social Forum threatened to break the iron cages of Governments. Independent people’s power of the world was half visible. Awaken by such critical realities; some countries tightened their information control. The axe fell on the Internet. Simply certain websites which are anti-national and provoking people to react were blocked.

Technologies which were part of younger generation were slowly impacting the elder sections too. Lagging behind in techno knowledge, Governments constituted cyber cells both to spread its information and to track its rebels and anti-establishments messages in the cyberspace.

China qualifies to the number one spot in censoring and blocking websites. No other country has so powerfully dealt with the Internet power than China. Jonathan Zittrain and Ben Edelman in their study found that collected two hundred thousand website samples and found that about fifty thousand were unavailable at least one and nineteen thousand were unavailable twice. BBC, CNN, US Court System were blocked. Some websites were clever enough to copy past the information from the blocked sites were available. It is a matter of popularity of the free expression of China sites that matter most to the Government. Tibet and Taiwan searches in the Google yielded no information or pro China news. Such was the strength of Government control over internet in China.

The Amnesty International says that the Chinese users were cleverer than their government by using proxy servers. It is the same case in information controlling Iran. The network system got popular from the university campuses. Slowly the anti-establishment students started spreading their message through Internet. Having successfully crushed down the print medium which was spreading anti-government messages, the Internet power came as a great shock.

Despite several tortures and control mechanisms Internet seems to be penetrating right to the end of the Government and hitting hard with antagonistic messages. Naturally the state control seems to be partial rather than totally ruthless. Off late the Chinese authorities are sending proxy pictures with anti-China message and infecting it with virus deliberately. This comes on the top of the searches and threatens the surfers not to download it. This exercise is repeated to fill many search results with virus attached messages and images.

One never knows the time of total takeover of Internet by the Government. Its power can be enhanced and upgraded any time. If a techno person takes over the Government then he/she will apply own mind to control the information. Rarely one can see a liberal implementing his prophecies. With the increasing terror threats anyone in the government will be compelled to give it as an excuse while ordering information control.
It is crucial to separate information freedom and information menace. Naturally every government should allow the free flow of information. Keeping track of the terrorists and troublemakers is a must. Indeed internet should be used proactively by the Government to track terror operators and help public to live peacefully.

Customer No Care

Invariably every company has got a customer care cell. 24×7 one-stop solutions are promised by them. These are basically computer –telecommunications linked systems which are supposed to solve the customer problems immediately. To increase the work efficiency and output generation, latest technologies are used. In the first step towards better management, customer care is insisted.

 

But practically there is a least care for customer’s complaints and suggestions. In sheer desperation to market products customer care is assured through wide advertisements. When the time comes for problems with products, consumer feels the heat. Cell phones, cable connections, Internet, and other electronic product related issues warrant immediate solutions.

 

As a free market lobbyist Nitisha (23) was loud mouthing about the best returns offered by the private sector for the customers. She always earned happiness in downgrading public sector companies. To score brownie points in casual debates she poured her heart and vehemently argued for the cause of private sector. Her boss a hard votary of liberal economy recruited her and paid peanut salary. She was assured of better pay after few months. Unfortunately months and years passed, she only worked harder and gave better results. No sign of boss talking about increment in her salary. Meanwhile she has to buy a phone. Naturally the multi national Nokia was her choice. With in days, Nokia phone started creating trouble.

 

She called the customer care for 20 continuous days. Most of the time she was put on hold or transferred to someone who cannot understand her problem. Frustrated with this problem she went straight to the service centre. There was a huge rush. Amidst burning summer heat the big crowd in the service centre increased her frustration. On top of it there was no air-conditioning. Not even water was served.  After three hours her turn came and the executive in the desk rudely told her that it is not place where she can bring small issues. Anger soared to top of her brain and she lambasted him. Few heated exchanges wasted her precious time.

 

Coming back home she found her Internet not working. A call to the customer care centre was not possible due to the continous engagement of the given number. After 4 hours she got through the line and the executive was not able to communicate properly. Leave alone understanding her problem.

 

Not only Nitisha experiences these kinds’ of customer unfriendly behaviours, millions of people face such problems. Despite consumer cells and courts these problems persist. One of the prime reasons for pouring complaints against costumer care units is adhoc solutions stitched by private companies. Public Sector companies are known for casual customer attitudes because of the people working in it don’t have private stakes. With the increasing competition from private sector, Government companies are also forced to pull up their socks.

 

In the end one can sense that the present customer care centres are totally inadequate and ill-equipped to handle the problems. One, the scale of the problem and number of customers pouring is above the limit of the employees. Two, companies recruit without adequate training for customer care. Three, low salary and high level exploitation brings most crude work force. Four, top level management is not seriously monitoring the performance of the team. Five all solutions are provided to solve the crisis for the time.

 

Whether private or public companies should improve their services. Otherwise business will not improve. Consumer courts should take tough measures to punish the defaulters and deliver justice to the common people. Not only technology companies are creating problems, almost all service providers test the patience level of the costumers. Education providers and health services are the next worst areas. A timely support is required to pull out the problem facing consumers.

Techno Terrorists

Technology is the main catalyst for terrorism. Without using technology terrorists may not have weaved a global network. From bomb making to recruiting to blasting, a heavy dependence on technological support is required. With a click of the mouse, terrorism can be exported and imported. Internet, computers, mobile phone and satellite television are aiding terrorists to achieve their terror goals. On the other hand, intelligence agencies and police forces are lethargic in tapping the technology in arresting terrorism. The main specialty of contemporary technology – death of space and time is fully used by terrorists.

 

A disrupting trend is that more and more educated youth are involved in terrorist activities. Neither money nor fame is the motive behind these highly qualified terrorists. In the name of God they are brainwashed and pressed into destructive ventures. Osama Bin Laden and Al Zawahari are the leading techno terrorists. Osama a son of a wealthy Saudi construction tycoon graduated in civil engineering before taking guns. Al Zawahari is an oncologist (cancer specialist). The top commanders of Al Qaeda are masters in technology use with professional educational qualifications.  They have inspired hundreds of well educated youth to jump into terrorist networks. Today there are local and global terror groups actively operating. No exaggeration to say terrorism and technology are hand-glove.

 

In the first week of October 2008, Mumbai police busted a techie racket involved in large-scale bomb blasting. They were the software brains of Indian Mujahideen behind sending terror mails. These young educated terrorists were responsible for the chain of bomb blasts in Ahmedabad, Hyderabad and Surat.

 

Mohammad Mansoor Ashar Peerbhoy (31) Principal software engineer with global internet giant Yahoo/salary Rs.19 lakh a year

 

Mubin Kadar Sheikh (alias Salman) (24)/Senior technical support advisor with a corporate firm

 

Asif Bashir Shaikh (22) Mechanical engineer in Pvt firm

 

According to a news report of the Times of India, police recovered, “sleep-inducing tables, anesthetic injections, radio and Wi-fi signal detectors, bullet-proof jackets, two country-made 9mm pistols, 5 laptops, 6 CPUs, 3 pen drives, provocative CDS and literature are some of the materials recovered from the arrested terrorists  (‘MNC technie sent terror emails”, TOI, 7 October 2008, P.1).

 

There are various reasons behind the persistence of techno-terrorists. The counter-terror mechanisms of Governments are proceeding in a slow pace. In fact they are not able to cope up with the speed of educated terrorists. Maryann Lawlor writing in The Signal brings out this hard fact thus; “Web surfers use the DNS every day. It provides the mapping from a Web site’s domain name to an IP address. The DNS does not authenticate identification and that vulnerabilities in this system have been documented for the past 10 years. As a result, crackers can hijack traffic by sending e-mail messages that appear to come from companies such as Google or Bank of America, and users do not know the difference”.

 

The world needs a consolidated force to tackle this techno terrorist menace. From Ahmedabad to London to New York to Baghdad to Kabul they need to be nabbed timely and punished. Allowing educated people to claim fame and lay hands on huge money will be inspiring many more such youth which can prove disastrous to the harmonious world order.

 

Reference

http://www.afcea.org/signal/articles/templates/Signal_Article_Template.asp?articleid=1254&zoneid=201

 

Cyber slacking

cyber-slacking.jpgUsing office computer and cyber resources for personal benefits is called cyber slacking. In India nearly 70% of the internet users send email, social network, chat, listen to online music, and watch digital movies during the office hours. According to the Internet Service Providers Association of India (ISPAI) survey more than 70% of the workers utilize office internet and computer for individual  pleasure. The audit report conducted by National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM) also confirms this trend. Knowing well about the drainage of office resources and time unproductively majority of the mega companies have blocked internet sites which allow workers to chat and social network. For instance all the call centre companies have prevented other than their site to be opened during office hours. Here the staff feel bored and do not even have time to e communicate with friends. Risa (22) works in an international call centre in Delhi. She goes to her work at 2 p.m and reaches home by 12 a.m. She cannot open any other internet site except her company’s. There is no time for her to do check her email or social network. Whenever her friends working in non BPO sector talk high about Orkut or Facebook or yahoo chat, she will deprived of the cyber happenings. Apart from putting headphone and conversing with her global customers she meets her colleagues over coffee. Not even she is allowed to make personal phone calls. The same feeling was shared by Rishabh, Mirnal, Surbhi and Piyush from Bangalore and Pune.

In small companies it is easy for the management to watch the type of site watched or surfed by the staff. Mostly the cyber control is not exercised due to the close relations exists between the long surviving members. However due to frictional work relations many employees get fired by the bosses. Dhanu (34) works a communications manager in a NGO in Chennai. His computer is visible to all the seven employees in his office including his director. The Orkutting fever caught him six months back and it spread to the entire office. Even he forced the director to open one Orkut account. Now the director says “it is getting out of hand. Neither I am able to rein in them nor I am able to control myself from orkutting”.

Ramya (27) worked in a paper manufacturing company in Mumbai. Although only 12 people worked with her in the corporate office, her boss was extremely angry with her . He noticed her sending scraps to friends in orkut. The next day she was served termination notice. The complaint reads “During office hours, she surfs unproductive sites which is irrelevant to the company’s work and benefits. She wasted the resources for personal pleasure. Her continuation will infect other employees with motivation to use office resources for individual entertainment”. 

The history button in the computer can give the sites visited by employees in office. But very few bosses this technique to monitor their workers. A step above is the networked computerization which is available in most of the big offices. All the computers in a office are connected to a server. The boss or any one can find out what others are doing with their computers. Rarely this method is used. Even if it is used it will be only selectively to chuck out the employees who antagonize the boss or top colleagues.

Now the cyber slacking is becoming troublesome for many employees and employers.  It needs to be controlled to use the office resources for betterment of productivity and customer satisfaction.s

Parliamentarians in the age of technology

mps.jpgThe revolution in technology is suppose to wake up the public representatives from the deep slumber and make them to reachout to their constituencies more efficiently. Alas! that is not happening with the Indians. The response of the MPs, MLAs and local leaders are becoming worst with the every passing day. Neither they are addressing their constituency problems nor attending the parliamentary sessions. The attedance in both the houses of parliament are sliding every session. This is despite a quality improvement in the lives of MPs in the last few years. Now they are provided with a laptop, mobile phone, Rs. 2 crores annually to spend for the constituency and many more fringe benefits. Especially the younger MPs are the most disappointing in responding to the public queries.

I asked MPs across the political spectrum about the budget presentation. Here is the response I got.

Veteran Congress MP from Kerala – “I have better work to do at home than sitting in the parliament to hear the boring budget speech”

A vociferous BJP MP from Madhya Pradesh – “Oh! budget I will watch from home”

CPI(M) MP from West Bengal – “The party expects us to be in parliament. But I can skip because of my personal work”

There is only 5% of the MPs, 3% of MLAs and 1% of the local representatives responded to our emails. Very few can reply to the postal letters and telephone calls. In comparison to the similar survey conducted 10 years back the situation is worst now. But the senior leaders like Pranab Mukherjee, Maneka Gandhi, Yashwant Sinha are better off in responding to public matters.

what are they doing with the MP post? Not attending parliament, not visiting consitutency often, no response to public queries. It seems that they are all busy in making business. In the consumer world, any amount of public support is insufficient for them to meet the dream world. Hence they resort to cheap business. Running after contracts, sealing petty deals, heading the sports clubs and other ordinary men’s job. Sadly some MPs from North are engaged in kidnapping and ransom business. 

Things have taken topsy turvy. Even in inner party elections the concerned leader demands bribe from his fellow party men. In Congress one of the veteran from Madhya Pradesh who is now the cabinet minister of prime portfolio used to run his money show during elections. When the party was in opposition from 1996 to 2004 he got plump states as the incharge. In Karnataka local body elections he had demanded Rs.50 lakhs from a prominent party activist and trade union leader for the chairman post.  Despite the person belonging to minority community which the party is suppose to champion the cause and 30 years of hard work in the grassroot levels he was denied the seat because of his inability to pay Rs.50 lakhs as bribe to the central leader. How else can the old war horse of Congress can use the oil coupons for Iraq and indulge in crores of corruption? All the humanitarian concerns are left in the air. This is happening across the political spectrum. We are in the merry making times. Why not our public representatives too? Let all of us eat, drink, sing, dance and be merry! In order to do this let us indulge in scandals and scams without any worry!!