Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Review of Epic, the first Indian browser

I got excited when I read a post on techtree about the launch of a new browser Epic, made by an Indian for the Indians. This is made possible by a Bangalore based company Hidden Reflex. Of course,  people of other nationalities can also use this wonderful browser, but it has a couple of India specific features.  

About the company:  (source : techtree )

The company was founded by the then U.S. based Engineer Mr.Alok Bhardwaj in 2007. However, the company is currently based in Bangalore. They initially had a team of three members and have now grown to quite a bunch of people who are working on two separate products. The first one, Epic, has already been launched. The other one is still in the making.

About Epic:
  • Epic is based on the open source Mozilla platform
  • The first web browser by an Indian company
  • Built in anti virus protection
  • Hundreds of side bar apps/widgets
  • Anti phishing protection (nothing technical about this)
  • Inbuilt malicious website warning
  • The Collection Feature
  • Indian themes & wallpapers
  • Indic Language support (16 languages)
  • Built in word processor with support for 12 Indian languages
  • One click private browsing (romba mukiyam)

Features I loved :

  Collections : You can create a collection of your favourite websites and with a single click, you can open all the sites at once. For example, you can create a collection named "Blogs" and add your favourite blogs (for eg.,  :P )  to this collection & with a single click all the blogs will get opened in separate tabs in the same window.

 Sharing links : 
Sharing links of webpages & videos on 
- social networking sites like facebook, twitter, orkut, buzz, etc. 
- or bookmarking them on digg, delicious, etc.
- or posting on your blogs
is so easy. Just click on the "star" icon on the top of the page in the tab & you are done.

  Write is built in word processor (yes, within the browser) with Indic language support (16 languages)

This feature is good
ये एक अच्छी सुविधा है
இந்த விசேஷ அம்சம் ரொம்ப அருமை !!!

India content :  Lots of Indian content viz., News feeds in English, Hindi & regional languages from various news sites, City specific events, live TV (NDTV), selective video clips of various news & entertainment channels  & many other contents.

Using Epic Skins, the entire appearance of the browser can be modified. Lots & lots of India specific themes and wallpapers are available. My favourites picks are Katrina, Aish, SRK, A R Rahman,  IPL, Regional (Andaman & Nicobar Islands is marvellous), children (child with mehendi is very cute). You can have your own photos as the Epic's wallpaper.

Social Networking :  Sidebar apps available for accessing Twitter, facebook, orkut, gmail & yahoo mail as in a mobile device.

Lots of interesting & useful apps available, which can be installed easily by a few clicks.

Most of Epic's features may be available in Firefox browser as well (I haven't used Firefox much), as Epic is built on the Mozilla platform. But, still, I would say that it is a great effort on the part of the Hidden Reflex team taking into account the unique appearance, side bar apps, indian content & a host of other features. 

Congratulations to the Hidden Reflex team & best wishes for the Epic browser !!!

Click here to download Epic.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tragedy continues in Bhopal

I was deeply disturbed & disappointed by the verdict delivered by a Bhopal court in the gas tragedy that happened way back in 1984.

Twenty six years after the world’s worst industrial disaster, which took the lives of more than 15,000 people and maimed thousands for life, judgement has been delivered in the case. The judgement for the culprits is unbelievable. Just 2 years jail ... no need to serve that either. All convicted were let off on bail immediately. And the main villain of this horrific event Mr.Warren Anderson never had to face the trial. He didn't even had to spend a single minute in jail for being the main reason for such a horrible event.

Just click on this link, which was posted on the 20th anniversary of the tragedy in 2004. The pictures & the events following the gas leak will melt the heart of even Osama Bin Laden. But, it seems, our politicians’ minds are made of iron; they are just not bothered about the episode; no willingness to either to punish the culprits or to provide adequate compensation to the affected people.

Question of Anderson's extradition

Some people argue that it is too late to extradite Anderson & make him face trial, as he is already 90 years of age.  Anderson is leading a luxurious life in New York.

My take is, better late than never. Even though it doesn’t make sense to call for his extradition & make him face a trial due to his age, it will give a sense of satisfaction to all those affected by this disaster that the main villain has been punished. I don't think he would have lost all his senses that he doesn't even remember having manslaughtered 15000 innocent lives & made the lives of thousands of people miserable. Let him spend his remaining life in the Indian jails.

Further, I was surprised when I found that the US is still pursuing cases pertaining to Nazi War Crimes !!! US Government is fighting a case against Mr.Vladas Zajanckausas, a 93-year-old Lithuanian-American, to deport him for trial to Lithuania for alleged Nazi war crimes. This case clearly shows the double standards adopted by the US Government.

Compensation to the victims

It is said that the Government of India had claimed USD 3.3 billion from Union Carbide (source) as compensation on behalf of all the victims. However, for unknown reasons, the Government finally agreed for a paltry USD 470 million, a mere 15% of the original claim. 

This compensation works out to a pathetic US$ 500 (around Rs.25,000) for a person. The Dow Chemicals spokesperson had remarked in 2002 that "$500 is plenty good for an Indian". Click here to watch what Mr.Ramachandran, former CBI Joint Director and Mr.K.Parasaran, former Attorney General of India, who represented the Government in settlement, have to say regarding the tragedy.

This amount paid by Union Carbide is just the insurance amount.  So, effectively, the company has not incurred any liability for its stupid, reckless & inhuman acts.

Clean-up of the site

No solution has been found, till date, to clean up the tonnes of toxic waste left over on the premises of the now defunct plant (source). The deadly chemicals have contaminated the ground water in & around the area & has made it unfit for drinking purpose.  Dow Chemicals, which bought Union Carbide in 2001, is unwilling to take any responsibility to clean up the site. 

Nuclear Liability Bill:

It is apparent that the our Prime Minister is eager to "gift" the Nuclear Liability Bill to the US President, during his visit here later in the year. It is said that the liability cap of a mere 300 million US dollars has been proposed in the bill in case of any accident (source). It is also believed that a key clause holding the foreign suppliers responsible for willful negligence in the bill has been dropped to "please" the Americans.

One can only hope that better sense prevails & the Nuclear Liability Bill is re-drafted taking into account the horrific experience in Bhopal.

Our Legal System:

Our Legal System has to be completely revamped urgently. It's really pathetic that it took 26 years for the court to deliver the justice in a case, pertaining to the world's most horrific industrial disaster.  According to the Economist, India's courts have a backlog of more than 20 million cases, which by one judge's estimate would take 320 years to clear. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

SEBI - a proactive investor friendly regulator.

A pleasant surprise for me, when I happened to check my savings account statement, today. I observed a credit of a few hundreds and was scratching my head, as to what it is. The transaction remark was not clear. It read like 'SEBI IPO'. But, when I read an article in rediff (link shown below), then I understood the reason for this credit.

It was like unbelievable, but true. When there were stories doing the rounds that SEBI is planning to compensate the retail applicants affected by the IPO scam of 2004-05 in some way a couple of months back, I thought it was just a foolish idea, as it is an impossible thing to do so, looking into the complexity of such an exercise.  But, SEBI has done it !!! Rs. 20 crores collected from the IPO scamsters has been distributed to over 12.75 lakh retail investors, who would have otherwise profited by the share allotment in IPO.

Though the "compensation amount" is miniscule, I can understand the enormous efforts put in by SEBI for accomplishing this job.

Kudos to SEBI & team !!!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Politics of hate !!!

The events unfolding in Maharashtra are well known to everyone. The Thackeray cousins are in a war of one-upmanship to "prove" that they are the "real saviours" of the Marathi language & the Maharashtrians.

I have a few Maharashtrian friends, a more appropriate description would be, my Indian Friends born & brought up in the state of Maharashtra. I am pained by their "complete, blind & unstinted support" to the violent & illegal ways of the Thackeray cousins. I just can't imagine as to how they justify innocent individuals being beaten up by 10 or more people for no fault of theirs. When I criticise the Thackerays, they feel that I am doing so because I am also an "outsider" (Really strange that I am being considered as an outsider in my own country).

I am equally critical of the tactics adopted by Mr.Karunanidhi in the 1970's. Due to his vehement opposition to Hindi, which is our national language, North Indians find Tamil Nadu a tough place to visit today as communication has become difficult (Living in a foreign country is easy than in Tamil Nadu for many of the North Indians). He also calls himself as the "saviour of tamils". What he did for the country, society & for his own "families" is well known. His sons, daughter, nephew all enjoy minister posts.

What is a language? It's a tool to communicate; express our feelings. Having a national language integrates our nation. It gives freedom for a citizen to travel to any part of the country without any problem.

The "act" of the Thackeray cousins has an international term. It is called "protectionism". US President Barrack Obama is also a "protectionist". He is against "outsourcing" as it leads to "flight of jobs to outsiders". I don't have any complaints on Obama as he does his job in a legal manner. He reduces the H1B visas, imposes penalty on companies which outsource jobs, etc. Imagine if the Indians are being roughed up by the Democrats in US as is happening in Australia!!!

What the Thackerays are doing is something similar to what is happening in Australia. Mr.Udhav Thackeray criticises the Australians for beating up the Indians. But, his own party men are doing the same thing in our own country!!! What is the difference?

I have no complaints if the Thackerays pursue their "policies" in a legal manner. Let them announce in their election manifesto that if they are voted to power, then they will start a "permit regime" for entering Mumbai. Let them pass such a bill in the Assembly & make it legal, if they are voted to power. Then, I won't have any complaints. But, what they are doing now is definitely illegal & against national integrity.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Google Buzz

Got to explore Google Buzz, the new tool for social networking, today...In some articles on the web, it was written, that Buzz is facebook & twitter put together. But, I feel it is exactly similar to twitter with provision for sharing of photos and videos. Also, one can send "mega" 140 character restriction here..

You don't have communities or wall-like concepts in Buzz. It is just following others & being followed by others, similar to Twitter. Integration into Gmail is a plus, which assists, atleast initially, for getting followers & to follow others. Twitter lacks in this. Already some people opine that Buzz is the beginning of the end of Twitter as Buzz is integrated with Gmail.

Further, one's picasa, youtube, twitter, blogger accounts can also be linked in Buzz. Facility to link picasa & youtube accounts will make sharing of photos & videos much simpler.

Link to twitter feature is there, but it is one way. Public tweets in Twitter will be "broadcast" in buzz, but not the other way round.

Have to explore to know more about the above features & to check out for features that are unique to buzz.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Vetri Nichayam !!!

Happened to receive this wonderful article some time back. "Suffer to avoid suffering".

Just click on the image to read, if it's not clear.  An English translation will be posted shortly.

Wakeup call for all Tamilians !!!

Happened to receive this very good & practical article by mail. Really, Mr.Karunanidhi has made a mess of the TN politics by his "freebie" culture. Now, Indian citizens of Tamil Nadu cast their votes for the freebie announcements & hot cash. He has made Great Indian Democracy into a big joke.

It's high time the Election Commission categorizes such pre-election freebie announcements as "bribe" & put a full stop to this unethical, illogical & stupid practice.

Just click on the image to read, if it's not clear.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What is "State of the Union address"?

After reading US President Barack Obama's statement, one would be curious to know more about "State of the Union address".

Some extracts from wikipedia:

State of the Union is an annual address presented by the President of the United States to the US Congress. The address not only reports on the condition of the nation but also allows the president to outline his legislative agenda and national priorities to the Congress.

The State of the Union is typically given before a joint session of the United States Congress and is held in the House of Representatives chamber at the United States Capitol.

Modeled after the monarch's Speech from the Throne during the State Opening of Parliament in the United Kingdom, such a report is required by the United States Constitution. The Constitution does not require that the report take the form of a speech; although virtually every president since Woodrow Wilson has made the State of the Union report in the form of a speech delivered personally before a joint session of Congress. By tradition, the President makes this report annually, even though the clause "from time to time" leaves the matter open to interpretation:

“ He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient. ”
— Article II, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution

Some interesting facts:

George Washington gave the first State of the Union address on January 8, 1790 in New York City, then the provisional U.S. capital.

Since 1934, the message or address has been delivered to Congress in January or February. Today, the speech is typically delivered on the last Wednesday in January, although there is no such provision written in law, and it varies from year to year. In 2008, the speech was given on the last Monday of January.

The Twentieth Amendment also established January 20 as the beginning of the presidential term.

The website contains the full transcript of the State of the Union Address of all the US Presidents...

Won't accept 'second place' says Obama

US President Barack Obama, in his first State of the Union address, has remarked that the US won't accept second place citing India, China & Germany as the countries that are going ahead with economic reforms.

Don't worry, President...If India, China & Germany march ahead of US, then obviously US won't be in the second place. US will be in fourth place, naa :-)   So, no need to worry, President...just relax... :-)

Wish to read the full transcript of Obama's address...? Click here...

IPL Pakistan controversy

There is lot of controversy over the exclusion of all the Pakistani players in the IPL3 auction. Now, the Indian Government has blamed the IPL management in strong words. Mr. P. Chidambaram, Home Minister has remarked in an interview that the IPL has done "disservice to cricket" by not selecting any of the Pakistani players.

The Indo-Pak diplomatic relations is an on-off affair. It will continue to remain so as Pakistan is an "adventurous" country. The Prime Minister of Pakistan Mr.Yousuf Raza Gilani has openly commented that the Pak Government can't assure that another 26/11-type attack will not happen again in India. That's true. When his own country is not in his control, it's absurd to expect such a guarantee from him. Even if he has the control, then too, it's absurd to expect such a guarantee as terrorism is a part & parcel of Pak's foreign policy.

In such a scenario, how can anyone expect the franchisees to risk "buying" the Pakistani players (cricket players have become a commodity that they are being auctioned & bought; players have no complaints, why will they? when they are getting paid in millions of dollars for going under the hammer!!) by spending millions of dollars when there is so much uncertainity on the players' availability. Either the Pakistani Government/Board may restrain their players from participating in IPL or the Indian Government may refuse visas to the players.

As far as SRK's comments are concerned, I think he had his films in his mind. Indian movies are a big hit in Pakistan, naa... He wants to have the cake & eat it too... On one side, he himself has not bought any of the Pak players & on the other side, by his soothing comments, he has ensured that there are no problems for releasing "My Name is Khan" in Pakistan. He's a shrewd business man.

I think it was logical on the part of the franchisees to have decided against buying the Pakistani players. I feel PC went overboard to please the Pakistanis by his strong comments. External Affairs Minister Mr.S.M.Krishna's comment advising the Pak Government to draw a line between Government & private events was the correct reply to the "angered" Pakistanis by the so-called IPL snub. I really don't understand as to why the Government of India should take efforts to pacify Pakistan on this issue.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Statistics about countries in the world.

A FAQ on geography is the total number of countries in the world. I just got curious to know the exact count & googled to find it out. While searching for this, I stumbled upon many other interesting facts.

Total number of countries:

Totally, there are 195 countries in the world. But, this figure includes Taiwan. Eventhough, Taiwan functions like an independent country with a separate capital & currency, it is not recognised so by most of the countries due to Chinese pressure. China claims Taiwan as its province.

U.N. members:

Amongst the remaining 194 countries, 192 are U.N. members. Vatican City & Kosovo, two recognized independent countries, are not members of U.N.

World's Newest Countries:

Kosovo is the newest country of the world. It was formed from Serbia in the year 2008. Prior to that Serbia & Montenegro got independence in the year 2006 (both formed from Yugoslavia).

33 new countries have been created since 1990. Most of them were formed due to the soviet collapse & breakup of Yugoslavia.

World's Smallest Countries (by area):

Following are the smallest countries in the world:

1. Vatican City
2. Monaco
3. Nauru
4. Tuvalu
5. San Marino

Nauru is the smallest island nation in the world. Vatican City has a land area of just 0.44 sq.miles !!!

World's Biggest Countries (by area):

1. Russia
2. Canada
3. China
4. United States
5. Brazil
6. Australia
7. India

Russia's area is equivalent to 11.5% of the world's total area !!! The top 7 countries hold around 44% of the world's total area !!!

World's smallest countries (by population):

1. Vatican City
2. Tuvalu
3. Nauru
4. Palau
5. San Marino

Vatican City has a population of just 920 people !!!

World's biggest countries (by population):

1. China
2. India
3. United States
4. Indonesia
5. Brazil

China & India alone contribute around 40% of the world's total population !!!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Are smaller states good for the country?

The Telengana issue has led to demands for smaller states across the country. Some politicians are following the same 'fast till death' strategy of KCR. These dramas are being made by the politicians to further their own interests rather than the region's interests.

While some experts are for smaller states as it would lead to better governance, some opine that it would disintegrate the country.

I don't understand as to why it should be difficult to manage bigger states as every state is divided into districts and we have a collector to administer every district. So, I don't agree with the argument that bigger states are difficult to administer.

I list below some of the reasons as to why I am not for creation of smaller states:

1. It would fuel regionalism & politicians would try to milk the regionalism (as the Thackerays are doing in Maharashtra)

2. It would increase the inter-state disputes over border, water sharing, etc.

3. Needless expenditure towards state elections, assembly, ministry, etc.

4. It would lead to the birth of a lot more political parties & add to the already long list.

5. Creation of small states like Jharkand, Uttarakhand & Chattisgarh has not lead to any significant improvement in the region's economy.

Due to the aforesaid reasons, I feel smaller states would be a bane for the country.

Happy New Year 2010