Seagate introduces 1TB(1000GB) Hard disk drives

Seagate Technology on June 25 introduced two 1TB hard drives for consumer and enterprise markets the Barracuda 7200.11 and Barracuda ES.2. Seagate claims to have "the world’s most advanced family of one terabyte drives" with the new Barracuda models. The Barracuda 7200.11 for desktops and Barracuda ES.2 enterprise PMR (perpendicular magnetic recording) hard drives deliver 1TB of capacity on a four-disk platform, 7,200-rpm spin speeds, and caches up to 32MB.

Seagate claims the new Barracuda 7200.11 only draws 8-watts during idle and 11.6- watts during seek. Acoustically, the Barracuda 7200.11 generates around 27-to-29 decibels of noise during idle and seeking tasks. Both drives will begin shipping in volume during the third quarter of this year. Pricing for each is set at $399.99. Seagate becomes the third hard drive manufacturer to reach the 1TB mark after rival Hitachi launched its 7K1000 3.5-inch drives in January this year.

Hitachi’s 7K1000 also sells for around the $US399 price. Thanks to new levels of competition in the market sector, storage devices continue to get smaller in footprint and less expensive, while offering increased capacity and more desirable features, such as auto-backup and encryption.

You can read the complete Press Release by Seagate here

Google invests in clean energy and green technology

Innovation goes to the heart of what Google does. Google recently announced its plans to positively make a contribution to the environment. The company has set out its strategy to help build a cleaner energy future. This plan will enable the
company to go carbon neutral by 2008 and help support environmental innovation that could ultimately benefit everyone.

Google has finished its Phase 1 of a 1.6 megawatt (MW) solar panel at its headquarters in Mountain View. Google says its committed to creating an additional 50 MWs of renewable energy generating capacity by 2012 (good enough to power 50,000 homes). This Google project is the largest solar installation to date on any corporate campus in the United States and one of the largest on any corporate site in the world.

Leveraging its assets to make an impact beyond its business. Google also plans to invests in innovative projects like plug-in hybrid cars (plug-ins) in order to make cleaner technologies commercially viable more quickly. Google understands that clean energy technology can dramatically shift how people make and use energy for their cars and homes by charging cars through an electric grid powered by solar or other renewable energy sources, and selling power back to the electric grid when it's needed most.

Google also recently sponsored the Climate Savers Computing Initiative which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by setting aggressive new targets for energy-efficient computers. More info available here. the philanthropic arm of Google.. uses the power of information to help people better their lives. They develop and invest in tools and partnerships that can help bring shared knowledge to bear on the world’s most pressing challenges in the areas of climate change, economic development and global health

For the full details on this google initiatives please click here

Yeigo v2 Instant Messaging For S60 3rd

Yeigo is an innovative application for your mobile phone which uses your phones internet connection, to offer you cut-price calls and SMS messages, and free instant messaging.

Integration with GoogleTalk, MSN, Yahoo!, ICQ, AIM and Jabber: from your mobile you can now chat to other Instant Messaging users for free.

Free SMS invitations: send free SMS invitations from your mobile to your friends who have not yet joined Yeigo. The more friends you have on Yeigo, the more free calls you can make. (At least 20 messages per user)

Compatible Phones
Nokia 5500 Sport Nokia 5700 Nokia 6110 Navigator Nokia 6120 Classic Nokia 6680 Nokia 6681 Nokia 6682 Nokia E50 Nokia E60 Nokia E61 Nokia E62 Nokia E65 Nokia E70 Nokia E90 Nokia N70 Nokia N71 Nokia N72 Nokia N73 Nokia N75 Nokia N76 Nokia N77 Nokia N80 Nokia N90 Nokia N91 Nokia N92 Nokia N93 Nokia N95

Yeigo for symbian v3

Google's Checkout versus Ebay's Paypal

Google and Ebay is in the news again, but this time for some negative reasons, a spat between Ebay's Paypal and Google's checkout. The spat arose after Google decided to hold an event promoting its Google Checkout payments system in the same city, and on the same evening as eBay's annual merchant conference, eBay Live. Online auction powerhouse eBay has pulled an estimated US$25 million of advertising from Google, accusing the search giant of acting inappropriately.

These digital payment services are different beasts that cater to different needs. Both provide a secure way to shop, with policies that refund your money in case of fraud. Here are some brief on both these services

Whats is Google Checkout ?
Google Checkout simply serves as a holding place for your credit or debit card information. It allows you to log in to a single Google username to shop, while hiding your valuable data and e-mail address from merchants. Payments could be made easily online.

What is Ebay's Paypal ?
PayPal's fine print is more complicated than Google Checkout's, but PayPal offers a wider variety of services for shoppers and businesses--particularly small ones--to exchange funds. Only PayPal lets shoppers transfer money to or from bank accounts in addition to credit and debit cards, and you can use it to wire money to other people without requiring them to get a paid account. PayPal is the only way to go if you're shopping around the world.

What are their limitations ?
Merchants with a U.S. address and bank account can process transactions through Google Checkout. Buyers with a U.S. billing and mailing address can make purchases through Google Checkout. In shoort Google Checkout is currently US only service.

PayPal caters to a wider range of audience, Its active in 55 plus countries, and already has a good customer base through out the world.

No more business travels for conferences, Microsoft's Roundtable is the alternative

Microsoft eyes future of teleconferencing with RoundTable, a product that is scheduled to debut by mid-2007. RoundTable is a table-top device, not much bigger than a traditional speaker phone at the base. It can be connected to a standard PC to offer synchronized voice and video conferencing. The device creates a 360-degree, panoramic video of side-by-side images of everyone who is taking part in the conference. It tracks the flow of the conversation, so the image and voice of the person who is speaking are spotlighted. People across many locations can attend meetings together virtually. The product which was termed as RingCam would be in market for around $3000

The product is ideal for the two types of conferenced business meetings. First, there’s the meeting with two groups of people in two different conference rooms in different locations. If there’s a RoundTable in each room, the devices will capture a 360-degree view of each, and meld together images of each person on the monitor. Empty spaces around them get discarded. If someone has a PowerPoint or other document to share with the group, it appears on the screen alongside the images of the people.

The second type of meeting is also very common: You have one conference room full of people and several other people who are dialed in from the offices, home or a hotel. The remote attendees can use a RoundTable device or a standard Web cam to include their image in the meeting. If not, they can dial in from a standard phone, and their voice will be added to the session; if they have an online connection, they can see everyone in the conference room. Thus providing businesses an alternative to business trips or expensive conventional audio/video conferencing systems.

The below video is a demonstaration of this product shared via YouTube.. caution: its a bit funny

Whats more all of these meetings or conferences can also be recorded and archived, Check out the below video of a demonstration on a meeting which is recoded by Microsoft Rountable (formerly known as RingCam)

Mobile Prepaid Cards

Prepaid cards are being utilised for many applications today. These range from giftcards to low cost banking applications. Applications for payrolls and cheap alternatives for cash distribution have been rolled out many times. All of these applications are based on plastic cards. The use of magnetic stripe solutions are by far more popular than any other solution.

However the technology is available today to deploy prepaid card products by making use of mobile phones. This means that no plastic is produced and any communication, redemption and payment is dealt with by mobile phones. The use of mobile phones as the means to "virtual" prepaid cards can lead to a lot of benefits:
  • Prepaid cards can be distributed much more easily and cost effectively (e.g. by making use of SMS's)
  • Prepaid cards can be distributed and activated with much mre security features
  • Additional payment functionality can be made available that was never possible before, and
  • Information related to the use of pre-paid cards can now be gathered more easily and acted on

Retailers should consider the use of mobile pre-paid cards in future

Competition for Credit Card Companies

Some quotes off the Internet the past month:

"A group of Europe's largest banks are holding secret discussions to establish a pan-European debit card scheme that would challenge those operated by MasterCard and Visa" (Read the article on the 11th May 2007)


"India's banks are considering setting up a domestic card payment settlement system to rival the networks operated by Visa and MasterCard" (article)

Why would banks want to do this? Surely, as the only shareholders in MasterCard and Visa they benefit primarily because one standard exists and that allows them to transact with each other in many different countries and with as many currencies - totally seamlessly. Just doesn't make sense. I can think of only two reasons why this should even be considered:

The first is the cost associated with a transaction as it is passed through the Credit Card settlement network. This is a function of the number of parties that must benefit from the transaction as well as some of the complexities regarding dispute resolution and fraud management. However, I am sure that if the different parties put their mind to it and make some compromises this should never be a problem.

The other reason can be because the organisations behind credit card transactions have started to morph into companies that are starting to compete with the banks. They may even be perceived as potential competitors and threats. In the Lafferty article the following words are being used: "....they do not have to rely upon foreign states or organisations for the provision of critical infrastructure services, including payments." (foreign organisations?)

It is a fact that credit card organisations do not play a neutral role in facilitating mobile payments. (One more than the other). These organisations are often prescriptive on designs and architecture and sometimes even develop competing product to what banks should be doing. It could be worthwhile to define the ideal role of credit card organisations in the world of mobile payments.

Working at Google is next to not working at all

Every month, aspiring workers deluge the popular Google office at Mountain View, Califonia. The company receives up to 11,000 to 15,000 resumes weekly -- equivalent to a stack of paper at least 20 feet high. And the company claims to read each and every one. As one of Silicon Valley's hottest companies, Google has become a beacon for job seekers. In just a few short years, the interest has helped the company amass an arsenal of what is arguably among the world's top technology minds.

To lure workers, Google offers perks, including free cafeteria meals, free use of laundry machines, a child-care center, a free annual one-night ski trip (resort destinations vary depending on office location), dog-friendly offices and an on-site doctor. Engineers can devote 20 percent of their time to projects of their choice. What's not mentioned is that much of the largesse is designed to keep workers at their desks longer.

Here is an insight on the google work culture, and a tour of the office head quaters called the googleplex in Califonia.

When it comes to benefits, Google goes beyond the basics so that its employees can focus on what you love about life, at work and at home. As per google their benefits lead the industry and they also have created several innovative programs that simply make life better. No matter what kind of life you lead, it can be healthier, less complicated and more fun at Google.

To sum it up " Working at Google. It’s the next best thing to probably not working at all. " is what Googlers say

Check out this Detailed Benefits List from Google

Heres another video of Oprah taking us on a tour of what it’s like to work at Googleplex, the company headquarters of Google.

Google acquires server computer startup PeakStream

Softwares are often designed to run on a single processing core, but multicore chips can handle two or more tasks simultaneously. With more and more multicore chips making their way in the market there is a need for developing software that can take advantage of multicore processors as well as graphics and gaming chips. PeakStream a start-up from that sells tools for writing software that can take advantage of multicore processors as well as graphics and gaming chips.

I guess the reason Google bought this company is pretty straightforward: Google has a huge appetite for parallel computing power, and that's Peakstream's business. Google probably plans to use Peakstream's software internally. The company runs thousands of servers and is concerned about getting the maximum use out of each one. PeakStream's Web site has been shut down mysteriously from yesterday. Hey but you could check out the site via Google Cache

Some more info about PeakStream could be found here

This news is sourced via theregister

All about the Bluetooth Technology

What is Bluetooth?
Bluetooth is the name for a short-range radio frequency (RF) technology that operates at 2.4 GHz and is capable of transmitting voice and data. The effective range of Bluetooth devices is 32 feet (10 meters). Bluetooth transfers data at the rate of 1 Mbps, which is from three to eight times the average speed of parallel and serial ports, respectively.

How is Bluetooth used?
Bluetooth can be used to wirelessly synchronize and transfer data among devices. Bluetooth can be thought of as a cable replacement technology. Typical uses include automatically synchronizing contact and calendar information among desktop, notebook and palmtop computers without connecting cables. Bluetooth can also be used to access a network or the Internet with a notebook computer by connecting wirelessly to a cellular phone.

Why is the technology called Bluetooth?
The heart of the Bluetooth brand identity is the name, which refers to the Danish king Harald "Bluetooth" Blaatand who unified Denmark and Norway. In the beginning of the Bluetooth wireless technology era, Bluetooth was aimed at unifying the telecom and computing industries.

What is the future direction of the Bluetooth standard?
At this time, we anticipate the Bluetooth SIG to evolve the Bluetooth technology to provide greater bandwidth and distances, thus increasing the potential platforms and applications used in the emerging personal area networking marketplace

How secure is a Bluetooth network?
Ans: Bluetooth is extremely secure in that it employs several layers of data encryption and user authentication measures. Bluetooth devices use a combination of the Personal Identification Number (PIN) and a Bluetooth address to identify other Bluetooth devices. Data encryption (i.e., 128-bit) can be used to further enhance the degree of Bluetooth security. The transmission scheme provides another level of security in itself. Instead of transmitting over one frequency within the 2.4 GHz band, Bluetooth radios use a fast frequency-hopping spread spectrum technique, allowing only synchronized receivers to access the transmitted data.

The basics of Wi-Fi and WiMAX technology

Wireless Internet access is growing at a furious pace in developing economies like India and China, South America and many other places in rest of the world. The basic standard for this wireless technology is WiFi. WiFi is primarily used to create a Local Area Network (LAN), which allows users within the network to connect wirelessly. The commonest use is primarily in Internet connectivity, but WiFi is also used for closed-circuit business networking and for connecting consumer electronics, such as TVs and DVD players.

WiFi makes connecting to the Internet within a home or business cheap and easy. While WiFi technology has proved largely successful in providing cheap wireless Internet service within close proximity to the WiFi access point, a new technology, WiMax, could expand the potential of wireless penetration and connection quality. WiMax does provide wireless reception over significantly greater distances, and at higher broadband levels. But the technology behind WiMax is significantly different from WiFi, as well as more costly. WiMAX is an acronym for World Wide Interoperability for Microwave Access.

To Sum it up...

# WiMAX is a long range (many kilometers) system that uses licensed or unlicensed spectrum to deliver a point-to-point connection to the Internet from an ISP to an end user. Different 802.16 standards provide different types of access, from mobile (analogous to access via a cellphone) to fixed (an alternative to wired access, where the end user's wireless termination point is fixed in location.)

# Wi-Fi is a shorter range (range is typically measured in hundreds of m) system that uses unlicensed spectrum to provide access to a network, typically covering only the network operator's own property. Typically Wi-Fi is used by an end user to access their own network, which may or may not be connected to the Internet. If WiMAX provides services analogous to a cellphone, Wi-Fi is more analogous to a cordless phone.

Screenshot v2.70 beta S60v3 Unsigned

Screenshot for Symbian OS is an application to take screenshot on your Symbian OS mobile phones (UIQ or S60). You can capture screenshot and save it to a file in JPEG, PNG, BMP or MBM format.

The screenshot can be sent directly to a PC via Bluetooth or infrared and another mobile phone. Furthermore, you can customize the shortcut key, file name and delay of capturing. It supports continuous mode that allows you to capture screenshot every a few seconds.

Screenshot v2.70 beta S60v3 Unsigned

Mobile banking is taking off this time

Since I was a small boy, Barclays bank epitomise banking. Other banks may try to do banking, but Barclays has always been the pinnacle of banking to me. When credit cards were launched, Barclays called their credit card a Barclaycard and this brand attached itself to credit cards. One could say that Barclays did to credit cards what Hoover did to vacuum cleaners.

So when Barclays announced the availability of their mobile banking solution in the United Kingdom last month, everyone should take notice. Barclays would not launch a product and attach the word "banking" to it, if this is just another fad. I think we can now safely say that mobile banking has moved from the maverick fringe to an enterprise necessity.

Suppliers of mobile banking solutions should also take note of this. The time for experimental pilots is gone. The need for mature, proven products that can be guaranteed by the supplier has now arrived. Only suppliers that are able to provide acceptable levels of support conforming to agreed service levels will be able to compete in this market going forward.

Cellphone remedy for Financial Fraud

This is a picture of an ATM with a card skimming device installed in front of the existing card slot. Very difficult to spot, not so? Recently, Westpac announced that they blocked 900 card accounts of cards that were used at a ATM in Melbourne that was tampered with and where the card information was skimmed. (Read article). All of the cards that could be effected were blocked, but fraudulent transactions were only conducted on 75 cards. The total amount of the fraud amounted to $ 100 000. Westpac also announced in the same press release that they are in the process of installing anti-skimming devices on their ATM's. It has been reported that these devices actually vibrate the card as it is being pushed into the slot, making it impossible to be read by a static device. Three things spring to mind when reading this story:

  • Westpac must be congratulated that they actually tell this story. I often hear banks saying that it would break confidence in the banking industry if cases of fraud were to be reported. I believe that this attitude aggravates the problem. By telling people what can possibly happen, they can be more prepared to fight the fraud and report any suspicious things.

  • Second thing, it does spring to mind that Westpac may be publishing the story to highlight the fact that they might be the only bank in Australia that is installing the vibrating card trick. I was wondering what the cost of this change to all the ATM's is and if this is an indication of the size of skimming fraud in Australia. If this project is being executed with a positive business case, many other skimming incidents must have occurred to make it worth the cost and effort.

  • So is this vibrating card reader the only anti-skimming and anti-fraud mechanism that can be deployed for card fraud, and a related question: Why talk about this on a mobile banking blog?

Fundamo successfully deployed a number of very powerful anti-fraud mechanisms for card systems by making use of the unique characteristics of mobile phones. Solutions provided by Fundamo to combat card-related fraud include transaction alert services delivered to the card-holder's phone, ability to change a card PIN on a phone, or even block the card and mechanisms where the mobile phone is utilised as "something you have" in two factor authentication for transactions performed on the Internet... In addition, most phones can vibrate too (for free).

Blogging busy

It is a sign of our times that we don't have time to do anything anymore. Looking back at the end of a week to take stock of what has been achieved, one often feel as if nothing has been achieved. At a previous job that I had at a big corporate, I asked a senior manager what his typical day looks like. The manager replied that he basically just goes to meetings every day. I then asked him why does he go to these meetings, what is the objective and what does he achieve by attending meetings. To this he replied, quite seriously: "I go to meetings to find out what is going on".

At least we now have blogs that we can read "to find out what is going on."

I notice that I have not posted anything since 22 May. The reason for this is that we concluded some very interesting agreement at Fundamo during the past two weeks and I was quite busy with the activities related to these agreements. We will be making a media release on some of these deals next week, so I don't want to use my blog to "jump the gun". I intend to start posting in earnest many thoughts that I would like to share and get comments on. Some of the topics that I would like to discuss in the next few days are:
  • New types of fraud in banking now, and how we can use mobile banking help to fight these.
  • Some advances in mobile banking in specific markets (e.g. the UK and the US)
  • Some ideas on applying mobile banking in money transfer
  • Thoughts on least cost routing of payment clearing
  • The pre-paid card market and opportunities in this market
  • And some of the interesting "competition" that are emerging for Mastercard and Visa and the chances of them succeeding

See I am already tired just thinking of what I would like to post, but at least I have committed myself now.

Google Gears challenges Microsoft's domination over office

Google Gears is an open source browser extension that lets developers create web applications that can run offline. Gears provides three key features:
* A local server, to cache and serve application resources (HTML, JavaScript, images, etc.) without needing to contact a server
* A database, to store and access data from within the browser
* A worker thread pool, to make web applications more responsive by performing expensive operations in the background

Google Gears is currently an early-access developers' release. It is not yet intended for use by real users in production applications at this time.

The plugin is a 700K download for Firefox 1.5+ and Internet Explorer 6.0+ that installs three developer APIs. One API will handle the creation of data objects to store application information locally, another will be a SQLite relational database for searching the data, and the final part will enable asynchronous JavaScript so applications can sync data in the background without overburdening the browser

AJAX applications are at the core of web development, providing lot of new opportunities. Here's a Presented by Aaron Boodman on Building Better AJAX applications using tools like Google Gears

Microsoft's domination over office suite software will be challenged. Google Apps (currently consisting of word processing, spreadsheets, email and calendar) has been out for awhile but hasn't gone anywhere in terms of widespread adoption. The biggest reason: you can't work when you're off-line. With Gears, this changes. Now, Google Docs and Spreadsheets still won't measure up to Word and Excel, but the appeal of being able to access and work on documents from anywhere is a big plus, and Gmail and Gcal are considered by many to be better at what they do than the Microsoft equivalents. It'll be awhile before there's real competition in this field, but Google took a major step toward being a competitor with the release of Gears.

More info on Google Gears

Microsoft Surface - The real Magic

Imagine a table surface that can recognize physical objects like a paintbrush or a cell phone and allows hands-on, direct control of content such as photos, music and maps etc.. Touch screen technology has been around for a while, but Microsoft is taking things to the highest level with their newest developed technology - the Microsoft Surface.

The intuitive user interface works without a traditional mouse or keyboard, allowing people to interact with content and information on their own or collaboratively with their friends and families, just like in the real world. Surface is a 30-inch display in a table-like form factor that small groups can use at the same time. From digital finger painting to a virtual concierge, Surface brings natural interaction to the digital world in a new and exciting way.

Microsoft Surface puts people in control of their experiences with technology, making everyday tasks entertaining, enjoyable and efficient. Imagine ordering a beverage during a meal with just the tap of a finger. Imagine quickly browsing through music and dragging favorite songs onto a personal playlist by moving a finger across the screen. Imagine creating and sending a personal postcard of vacation pictures instantly to friends and family, while still wearing flip-flops.

For more information on this exclusive product Click Here

The Microsoft Surface Video