news technology

Google and IoT – Brillo and Weave


The thing that caught my attention in yesterdays Google I/O conference was the new (renewed?) focus on IoT. And this time, it looked like Google went back to basics. Back to the drawing boards. I like this idea. The Internet of Things (IoT) is not something that is going to be a fad and move into oblivion or mainstream in a few years and forgotten about. It is something that is going to grow over time. There will be an ecosystem around it. It will get smarter. It will become more pervasive. And it is going to stay for a long time.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is not something that is going to be a fad and move into oblivion or mainstream in a few years and forgotten about. It is something that is going to grow over time. There will be an ecosystem around it. It will get smarter. It will become more pervasive. And it is going to stay for a long time. The applications are many. From smarter homes to smarter public transportation systems. From cleaner cities to more energy optimization. From personal convenience (sometimes bordering on creepy?) to mainstream production. From retail to manufacturing. Everywhere. And here is where I get to make an almost sci-fi’ish statement – “Here is where machines will talk to each other.”

For this to happen, the basics need to be right. Almost like how Android started.

Google has introduced Project Brillo, which it claims to be the operating system for the IoT. It is a low-level layer of Android which can be ’embedded’ into the machines that are going to be part of the eco-system. These could be your Nest thermostat, smart LED bulbs, or in the future – smart ovens, smart refrigerators, smart dead-bolts (door locks) etc.

The second part of the puzzle is a standard communication protocol by which these machines will talk to each other. Google introduced a new protocol called “Weave”. (Somehow these names also seem refreshing opposed to IEEE 455.34 or something similar). The weave protocol will be a standardized protocol, which will enable any machine to talk to another machine, or to a phone, or to the internet — which is pretty  much the internet of things. This where the magic happens. This is how your phone and your car will tell your coffee maker to start brewing and tell your thermostat to warm your living room, when you are 5 minutes from reaching your home.

Google is also going to be starting a Weave certification, so that third party product manufacturers can make weave ready products. This opens up the ecosystem that I was talking about. Guys like WeMo and Belkin will jump on to the bandwagon first. And then more common-place companies like the Black and Deckers. And then in parallel, the Fords and GMs.

I am liking this world now.

image src: arstechnica

news Opinion technology

Johny Ive on Xiomi


“Its theft and its lazy, if you ask me.” — Johny Ive

This was the statement that Johny Ive when asked about Xiomi. There has been considerable discussion online about how the MIUI layout and design is very similar to iOS. And this is making Johny nervous and irritable. But is this the mature way of handling it? Isnt everything like that?

A person or a company typically invents (or produces) a concept or a product after a lot of hard work, and then it becomes a success. Then there are others who try and ‘copy’ or ’emulate’ if you will, to see the copied version can become a success too. There are times, when it does, and times when it does not.

Famously, Steve Jobs (once Ive’s employer) quoted the great artist Pablo PIcasso:

Good artists copy. Great artists steal.

If you read Steve’s biography and listen to some early tapes of his, you would see why he said that. His escapades around ‘stealing’ ideas from Bill Gates or more famously from Xerox PARC. Did the world cry fowl then? No. The capitalist philosophy is that, it does not matter if someone invented it. If someone can turn what was invented into what can make money, then that is success. A small town inventor who invented a great way to pump water from a borewell is considered a success in his neighbourhood. Someone who gets inspired by it, and makes it a production product and sells it to a hundred thousand farmers across India, becomes a resounding success.

See, Ive should understand that, just because you put in years of hard work into creating something very nice (and I agree, design wise, apple is probably way higher than any other company) does not mean that he can cloak it and keep it in his safe forever. It is a public product. This is a free world. He should probably feel proud that, there is another product which is considering his design as a role model and emulating it.

On a side note, Apple should probably feel good that, a company is atleast releasing this as something different (and is inspired by iOS) and not creating a fake iPhone and cheating others. By the way, that also happens. Come to India and see. You will hear talk about real iPhone vs Chine make iPhone.

And lastly, going by the track record of Apple, there will always be a fan-boy-club for Apple, who will always buy only Apple, even if they can get something that looks and feels exactly like Apple for half the price. So Apple, why do you worry? Or are you noticing the fan-boy-club dwinding? The numbers do not seem to say so.

design misc news

The Bay Bridge House

When sections of the Bay Bridge (Oakland to SFO, CA) was reconstructed (because of structural damage caused due to a 1989 earthquake), this bay area resident felt so strong about the bridge, that he bought part of the bridge that was slated for the scrap yard. He plans to build a house with it. And most likely, a part of it may be an AirBNB location.
Read on more here. [link]

misc movie news

The Real Wolf of Wall Street

Super article on LinkedIn Pulse today. The story of a Chinese born man Lu Xu, who faked passports and identity documents for more than 500 times to write the GMAT exam on behalf of others (illegally). He got great scores obviously. He got paid a handsome amount from most folks for whom he faked, and he did it free for some friends to achieve their dreams. He was ofcourse caught and sentenced to jail for a few years. He comes out of Jail and then becomes a GMAT tutor. Wow.

Read the full article here. [link]

news presentation technology

One man’s redesign of the PRISM slides

By now, we would have all read and shown our rage against PRISM and NSA and how our data is being watched. By now, we would also have settled down and accepted it as normal, and get back to whatever we were doing earlier. Emiland did not get back to what he was doing. He just thought that the slides were horrendous and created a slide set on how he would have created them. And they are wow.


Dear NSA, let me take care of your slides. from Emiland
misc news Opinion

Istanbul protests – Close Parallels to Delhi #repression

Last week of May 2013 a group of people most of whom did not belong to any specific organization or ideology got together in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. Among them there were many of my friends and yoga students.  Their reason was simple: To prevent and protest the upcoming demolishing of the park for the sake of building yet another shopping mall at very center of the city. There are numerous shopping malls in Istanbul, at least one in every neighborhood! The tearing down of the trees was supposed to begin early Thursday morning. People went to the park with their blankets, books and children. They put their tents down and spent the night under the trees.  Early in the morning when the bulldozers started to pull the hundred-year-old trees out of the ground, they stood up against them to stop the operation.

They did nothing other than standing in front of the machines.

No newspaper, no television channel was there to report the protest. It was a complete media black out.

But the police arrived with water cannon vehicles and pepper spray.  They chased the crowds out of the park.

In the evening of May 31st the number of protesters multiplied. So did the number of police forces around the park. Meanwhile local government of Istanbul shut down all the ways leading up to Taksim square where the Gezi Park is located. The metro was shut down, ferries were cancelled, roads were blocked.

Yet more and more people made their way up to the center of the city by walking.

They came from all around Istanbul. They came from all different backgrounds, different ideologies, different religions. They all gathered to prevent the demolition of something bigger than the park:

The right to live as honorable citizens of this country.

Sounding familiar. Wow. The only two differences that I see from what happened in Delhi late last year are – the original reason that triggered the protest ; and the press was not blacked out (we had Arnab and co. covering it for a week!). Well, to be fair, there was some biassed reporting. But it was there.

In Delhi, the protest started by asking the Government to ensure protection and safety for the citizens. When the police started using force, it quickly turned into “asking for the right to live as honorable citizens” too.

misc news

La Guardia runway under water

Wow. Check this photo out.


misc news

Space Shuttle Endeavour last leg

The space shuttle Endeavour was retired last week, and is being transported to a museum in Los Angeles (LA). For the last 12 miles, it was actually transported through LA roads.

Just imagine the awesome publicity that Toyota got. The da** trucked pulled the entire shuttle. For those folks, who do not live in the U.S, the Tundra is a pick-up truck that some normal people use as a ‘car’, for commuting to office etc.

And oh yeah, the Donut shop got a ton of publicity as well.

The above picture is from the The Atlantic. View the full set of pictures here.

news technology

Jay Leno buys a Tata Nano

.. and gives a glowing review.


Some statements that made me proud to be an Indian :

  • These guys build the Jaguars. These guys build Land Rovers. And then they build this beauty. I am sure this will evolve into something even greater.
  • The AC in this thing is so good, I am going to rip this one out, and put it in my F1 McLaren (whose AC sucks).


misc news

The Discovery’s Last Ride

I remember my visit to the Kennedy Space  Center in Cape Canaveral, FL. I remember to have just gaped at the space shuttle models and the launch pads and just thought in amazement of the number of times, this beauty has made ‘out-of-this-world’ trips — 133 to be precise!

R.I.P Discovery. I am sure Smithsonian will take as good care of you as the NASA guys did.

(via MarySue)