Second Life does deserve a Second Look

My first reaction to Second Life was very typical. I thought it was yet another massively addictive virtual reality. I might have to revise that. Second Life is addictive, Google Trends shows interest in Second Life is climbing sharply. But Second Life is more than that. Corporates are beginning to take Second Life seriously and are planning applications and products to capitalize on the time folks are spending in this new virtual world.

Reuters has begun to employ a full-time reporter to report Second Life news and activities.

The Reuters Second Life News Center reports several developer and design shops are taking an active interest in working on Second Life.

IBM is aiming to use Second Life as a platform for V-Business (a fancier word for VR E-Commerce?).

Jimmy’z Blog: Making Money in Second Life.

I paid my first visit to the Second Life world today. I had heard of the Dell Island and that is where I headed first. There I could sit down and design my own Dell. According to this article on ZDNet, I could order a PC for my real life in exchange for real dollars, or design a virtual PC for use in my Second Life in exchange for Linden Dollars. Unfortunately, I could not begin my design due to network connection issues.

Now the question is – can I get a job in my Second Life before I can purchase my virtual PC :)? I would need one since the Rupee to Linden Dollar conversion seems prohibitive. What is a Linden by the way? Apparently, the currency and other things are named after Philip Linden, CEO of Linden Labs and creator of Second Life.

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Trendy India defies the rest of the world – huh!

Click on each link to pull up the Google Trends report.

  1. In India, Movies have always been more popular than TV. The trend is almost always the reverse in all the other countries where both searches are popular.
  2. Rang De Basanti was a lot more popular than Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna.
  3. Blogs are more popular than newspapers with the online community in India. Only a few other countries exhibit this trend. Update: The trend report for the search term ‘blog’ versus ‘newspaper’ refutes this conclusion, look at the comments for more on using Google Trends reliably.
  4. BSNL and AirTel are the most searched of telecom providers in India. Hutch is a close third and is very popular in West Bengal, while AirTel rules the North.
  5. Searches for Naukri edge out searches for Monster by a close margin. Both trend lines reveal a lot more Indians are going online to look for jobs.
  6. Shah Rukh Khan is more searched than Aamir Khan by online users. Interestingly, more searches for Shah Rukh Khan originated from Rabat, Morocco, than Delhi, India. Amitabh Bachchan does not make much of a dent here. Update: Prateek also suggests that one take into account different ways of spelling – e.g. ‘Shah Rukh’ also becomes ‘Shahrukh’.
  7. Sachin Tendulkar beats Rahul Dravid as far as online trends goDhoni makes a surprise climb up the ranks.
  8. The online community can’t decide between Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. On the day of Singh’s appointment to the PM’ship of India, the trend was very different. Pervez Musharraf is eclipsed by the turbaned Indian Prime Minister.
  9. Only for a little while – Football was more popular than Cricket. You guessed it right, the timing coincided with the FIFA world cup, 2006.
  10. Searches for the keyword Matrimony outnumbered searches for Shaadi. Update: Prateek also suggests having a look at the report for ‘marriage ‘ and ‘wedding’ which are much higher than the other two terms.
  11. Mutual Funds are more popular than Shares. The search volumes are the highest in India. Update: The report on ‘stocks’ reveals one more story. In contrast to the rest of the world, the online populace from India still prefer Mutual Funds.
  12. Karan Johar will be happy to hear that he has finally overtaken Mithun as far as online searches go!
  13. IIM’s are catching up to the IIT’s in popularity.
  14. While global interest in GPRS is declining, GPRS interest in India remains just about the same for the last 3 years. Meanwhile, interest in AirTel keeps going climbing. Is India going to be over GPRS even before it can catch on?
  15. Tandoor is just as popular as Chaat or Halwa. Of course, Chaat Cafe (San Jose) has both Chaat and Tandoor, something you won’t see often in India! Update: Prateek points out that a report comparing ‘tandoori’, ‘tandoor’, ‘chaat’, ‘halwa’ would be more on target with tandoori coming out on top.
  16. Goa is much more popular than Himachal, search volumes predict a lot of tourists from the UK in Goa this year.
  17. Google searchers search for India more than its rival China. The pleasures of democracy 🙂 or is this the Baidu effect?

Inspired by: Micro Persuasion: 25 things I learned from Google Trends.

Disclaimer: Google Trends is only a tool. Any conclusions you can draw from the trend reports is at your own risk.

BlackBerry Pearl retails in India

BlackBerry Pearl

Update: Here is what one customer has to say about AirTel’s BlackBerry service in India and the BlackBerry Pearl.

1. Email service on id is unreliable, as there is “no server” where to push emails from! I bought my Pearl in Dec-2006 and have lost most emails when the helpline tried to re-configure after my email send-and-receive stopped for some reason.

2. Trackball was beautiful, but since couple of weeks, scrolling has become erratic for me. Sometimes, upward scrolling does not work, and at other times, scroll to left fails. If the problem cannot be solved and the instrument has to be replaced, it takes about 15 days (in Bangalore).

3. Airtel and BB support has been poor, whether on phone or email. Calls get dropped, and they don’t stretch to call back or follow up, beyond an immediate and annoying customer-satisfaction sms. “Call volumes are high” is the standard response. Requests get “closed” though customer still faces problems, and if serious complaints are raised, the call is either dropped or you are told that a remark has been raised in their systems (whose wording, of course, bears scant resemblance to the issue at hand.

4. Blackberry Prosumer (tariff) Plan for data can get switched to Rs.899 plan even if you’ve signed up for the 499 one. You’re told to get company approval, though it’s a personal phone. Bills and collection followup via sms, manual calls, automated calls, etc., gets done 3-4 times daily by different agencies … to a point that outgoing calls are cut. It’s happened to me while on holiday with family in Mumbai, for a fault that Airtel+BB committed.

5. Other than for music, ringtones, pic, and video, files can neither be saved from within BB (even if it’s attached to email) nor viewed (when not attached to an email).

More later …
— Vinit

The BlackBerry Pearl has been retailing in India for a while now and costs approximately Rs. 25,000 (as stated on CNN-IBN – Tech2.0). Strangely, I have not seen much of it on TV, Print and other media. The AirTel site does not list the Pearl either. Update: You can now watch the BlackBerry Pearl promoted on almost all the premium info TV channels.

NokiaE61The Pearl was featured this weekend on CNN-IBN’s Tech 2.0. While the shows review was not a detailed one (they enlisted a few strengths and weaknesses of several e-mail phones) you can find a detailed review on the tech2 web-site. Tech2 cited the Nokia E61 to be the closest competitor the BlackBerry Pearl 8100. In their own words, the Nokia E61 is a “BlackBerry Killer”. The Nokia E61 retails at Rs. 17,500. If your concerned about continuing to get your BlackBerry e-mail and are wondering if you can upgrade, the Nokia E61 can be used to grab BlackBerry e-mail. The E61 ships with BlackBerry Connect software that you can use to get your BlackBerry e-mail from your BlackBerry network.

Update: The E61 is being sold as the Nokia E62 in the USA. Business week has a short review of the phone.

More on the blackberry on Sukshma.

Open Source Java from Sun

If I did not make this post (although I am pretty sure you have already heard) I would not be true to my Java roots.

An Update:

Here is Rahul’s take on how an Open Source Java will change Linux (for the better).

Filmiholic and The Namesake

Came across a great blog on the desi-videsi movies genre. It’s called Filmiholic. Filmiholics claim to fame in my book is that it captures the less popular but equally enthralling independent Indian cinema very well.

Another blog worth mentioning is Kal Penn’s blog on the new Mira Nair movie “The Namesake”. Kal Penn (Harold & Kumar…) plays the son of Indian immigrants to America in the movie. The blog is about his stay and shooting of the movie in India. – An ‘intelligent’ start-up

I have spent an entire morning playing games on The idea is a very simple one, select photos you like from those presented to you and the web application will attempt to guess your personality traits.

Some truths about myself the application recounted, “your the sort of person who rarely misplaces things”, “you enjoy sarcasm”, “your somewhat laid back today”. The last one was hilarious considering my time spent on the site :). The site is almost like a mirror of mind and personality.

It remains to be seen how the founders will turn into a sensible business. I can already see signs that a social-community structure is being implemented around the application. The company is a Y Combinator startup. I read about likebetter on TechCrunch.