organized search

Today’s Indian Express carried an article about Kosmix, another search engine but with a revolutionary new idea. We all know that Google has become synonymous to web search that we often call it as googling. May be that verb should get added to the dictionaries.

But, as the article rightly points out, the outcome of a Google search is nothing but a list of blue links, sorted by its PageRank mechanism. Thus, what we see as the result is just the top scoring web pages and not a mixture of relevant and different types of information. The reason is still most top web search engines consider the web to be made of pages, which is not entirely true.

Though we still access a web page to see a content or in original terms the information, the information is not just a bunch of text. And even information as a bunch of text is not of the same type. In this web2.0 era, information is not just in web pages, it is in blogs, it is in Orkut and Facebook profiles and groups, it is in microblogging especially tweets, it is in images posted in Flickr and lot other places, it is in discussion forums, it is in Youtube and other video sharing sites, it is in iTunes and other music sharing sites, and a hell lot of other places and in a hell lot of formats.

For example, when we are searching about a person we just do not want to know his home page and wherever his name is mentioned. We might want to know his personal information, we might want to know his Facebook profile, we might want to know his digital albums, we might want to know the music he hears to or uploads, we might want to know the video he has just uploaded or a video about him or presented by him, we might want to know his last tweet, we might want to know lot of other things. Just giving them as a list of blue links in a page doesn’t help people anymore.

The search results need to be organized and categorized so that the audience can get a big screen picture and not the boring links to click one after another in an endeavor to find the information that one wants. This is what Kosmix tries to do. It organizes the information into news, video, books, blogs, tweets, photos…

For example, search for Manmohan Singh gives me the wiki article about him, videos of him and about him, links for information pertaining to him, images of him, discussion about him, questions asked about him,  news and blogs, and all you want to know about him neatly organized.

As the article mentions in the end, it is now upto Google, Yahoo and other search engine beasts to wake up and take the web search to the next era. We are sick of blue links..

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PyCon in India

PyCon is the annual conglomerate of Python community at various places around the globe. It is an occasion which brings together the developers, users and business community around Python, serving as a platform to interact and share each others’ views and experiences.

There was always an idea to have once such conference in India, but the need for it has become stronger of late in the BangPypers mailing list that has given to numerous threads of discussions going on in the mailing list. Also a formal proposal is getting drafted as well as open discussions happening in the wiki were people can pen down their opinions and ideas.

The month of September has been proposed for the tentative time for PyCon India to happen, but it is still under discussion. The few hot topics among the on-going discussions are whether to have tee-shirts available or should we have more useful stuffs like Python cheat-sheet given as a part of delegate kit. Also, what’s the level and mode the conference should take up being the first such event in India is also a point to decide upon.

Baiju also raised the idea of inviting Guido to open up the conference, as they would be having an opportunity to meet him during the PyCon in Chicago to happen soon.

Another point to remember is that PSF doesn’t want numerous PUGs in the country to have their own PyCons, which means all PUGs within India should put their heads together and organize a PyCon in the country together. This means we can have the PyCon each year at a new location, and the decision can be made during the current year’s PyCon about the next year’s venue. As the initial discussion has started in BangPypers, the beginning will most probably happen in Bangalore.

I know only three active PUGs in India, the BangPypers, the ChennaiPy and MumPy (which is pretty infant comparing the other two). If you know of any more PUGs, please enlighten me up so I can keep them on the loop as well.

Please feel free to add your thoughts in the wiki. We will soon select an organizing committee, and despite it we will need lots of volunteers and lots of sponsors. If you are in a company using Python and would like to participate and/or sponsor in this wonderful event, then please join the BangPypers mailing list or poke us in #bangpypers in irc.freenode.net. We will soon try to have a dedicated mailing list running up for all discussion relating to the PyCon.

If you have any more points to add to this post, please drop a comment to this post and I will consider adding  it 🙂 Let’s all make the PyCon happen in India. Python, FTW!! 🙂

now the time is 1234567890

We are fast approaching the point when the Unix time becomes 1234567890, and to add more pepper to this it’s going to be on V`day.  To know when it exactly happens in your time zone try the following command in your shell,

date -d @1234567890

For me it is on Sat Feb 14 05:01:30 IST 2009

The Intrepid Ibex Beta

It’s just around the corner, your long trust worthy friend is taking a yet another avatar and arriving at your desktops soon. To celebrate 4 years of successful presence in your desktops, here comes another new release from the Ubuntu community, the Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex. The brave wild goat is on the run towards your home and should land in your doorsteps by this moth end, ending 6 months of hard work that the wonderful Ubuntu community has put into it. The countdown has started… 24 days to go!

As a closest chance to taste it before it arrives, Ubuntu 8.10 Beta is now available for download. Get a copy and try it out. This can be another chance to contribute something back to your favourite Linux distribution, give us the feedback, test it out on your computers and report problems to us (ya, it’s beta and there can be issues here and there).

There are a few new things in Intrepid that are worth their mention…

Xorg 7.4 brings improved support for automatic configuration of input
hardware, such as keyboards and mice.

3G support: Network Manager 0.7 comes with a number of greatly anticipated
features, including management of 3G connections (GSM/CDMA) and PPP/PPPoE
connnections.

Guest sessions: the User Switcher panel applet provides a new option for
starting a Guest session.  This creates a temporary, password-less user
account with restricted privileges - perfect for lending out your laptop for
a quick email check.

If you belong to an official Ubuntu Loco Team, then you can pre-order Ubuntu Intrepid CDs even before it gets released and it will land at your doorstep within 2 weeks from the release date.

**Ubuntu India Team is not pre-ordering the Ubuntu Intrepid CDs because of the customs cost involved and to avoid the wastage of CDs it results in usually. We are otherwise pleased to burn you a copy of Intrepid given an empty media.
** Errr, that countdown banner javascript doesn’t seem to work with this blog. If I copy paste the<script> tag line, it just vanishes away when I save the page. *sigh*

The Firefox Fluster

When people speak about successful Open Source projects, what tops the list is the famous Open Source browser that’s been used by people not only on GNU/Linux, but on Windows and Mac as well. Firefox has always been the one prime example that OSS projects can be successful and famous. But no project is without problems, especially when the number of people using it and thereby the expectations on it from different kinds of people keeps growing.

This is not the first time that a GNU/Linux distribution is facing a problem with people behind the brand Firefox, indeed many distros took the decision to denounce the brand name Firefox and stay as Free as possible. But there were other distros which managed to get into an understanding and could keep the Firefox ball rolling.

What has happened over the recent past is that Firefox has come up with a requirement that when the distribution makes it’s own changes to Firefox and still want to use the branding of Firefox have to display an EULA when it’s users start Firefox the first time. As the distro chose to bundle Firefox as the default browser, this means that when you install this distro and start the browser the very first time, you have to face an EULA and agree to it to continue using the browser.

The second wave of problem associated with this is that it is conspired that the distro chose to implement this without consulting, debating and discussing with the community. A recent thread started in its bug tracker, lead to a long discussion (which many felt should have happened in a mailing list and not in a bug tracker).

The possible outcomes can be,

  1. Firefox again agrees for Ubuntu to use it without EULA being thrown to its users, hence the problem ends, at least for now.
  2. Ubuntu decides to still have Firefox with EULA but somehow get the permission not to throw on its users at first start (i.e. meaning all users implicitly agree to EULA when they start it first time)
  3. Ubuntu, following Debian and other distros, decides to denounce the Firefox brand and go for a custom brand or use Icedove (or similar browsers)

A lot of people support solution #3, especially those who want Ubuntu to strongly adhere to being like a Free Software distribution. My knowledge is very limited to the legal fundas behind it, but lots of people like me are also concerned. At one side, it’s about the philosophy of freedom which had been keeping us with FOSS. On the other side, it might be losing a well matured and powerful browser like Firefox. But we all hope that the final decision taken by people behind Ubuntu will be to the best interests of its community and something a major portion of the community can accept.

mere updates

There are two reasons for this post, first is that people have started feeling I no more blog, and second is that I heard of certain things that I thought of blogging.

It’s not new to have heard a complain that Ubuntu, though accepting openly that they are based on Debian GNU/Linux, has never acknowledged that they are thankful to Debian for what it has taken from them. We had no answers till sometime back but not anymore. Just visit the Ubuntu Home Page and you’ll know. If you want more, we have this page for you which talks about our relation with Debian.

Today I got the news which I was awaiting for sometime, the dates for foss.in 2008 were announced. This is one of the premier FOSS conferences in India and attended by a majority of FOSS enthusiasts from India and a lot more from abroad. This conferences gives us an opportunity to meet contributors from all over the world, the lead developers of many projects which we use or even contribute to and finally sometimes our heroes and heroines in FOSS. Also, this is an opportunity to meet a lot of my Indian friends from Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and other places at one place. We have to wait for some more days to know more in this front.

Ubuntu global bug jam was a great experience. Though we didn’t have too many people from Indian team participating, it was great interacting with lot of people around the world in squashing some bugs. There was indeed a global competition to get more bugs triaged and reach a better place in dholbach’s 5-a-day stats. Looking forward to more such bug jams and more experiences making me a better triager.