Monday, July 31, 2006

6 crore Taka versus the power of open source

I was reading Daily Bhorer Kagoj today, where I read some news about Banglapedia (how it is being pirated). Anyway, a portion of the news was the announcement about the 2nd version of Banglapedia, to be published by 2008. The Asiatic Society gave an estimate of 6 crore taka.

Link to the news item (Requires IE and some non-unicode fonts to view :( )

I'm quite astonished at the huge amount of money being spent in that way. True, a paper encyclopedia needs a lot of expenses. The writers are paid ... the office staff need to be paid and so on.

That's why the power of open source is so great ... in only 3 months, we were able to create 3000 entries in the Bangla Wikipedia, with only 10 people working in our spare time. True, many of these entries aren't complete yet, but I just gave the example to show how the open source collaborative effort can achieve better results than committees and paid writers.

So, in Bangla wikipedia, we can have a target now ... to build a great Bangla encyclopedia, which can definitely rival Banglapedia. Of course, Banglapedia only covers topics related to BD, whereas Bangla wikipedia is going to be a complete encyclopedia, covering all areas of knowledge.

Let's get up to 10,000 articles by next year, as I predicted last may in the BBC interview. And best of all, our knowledge in Bangla wiki is going to be given away free for all the Bengali speaking people of the world!

Banglapedia publishers -- our great intellectuals of the Asiatic Society of BD -- lamented that Banglapedia is being pirated in West Bengal. Well, we don't mind at all if anyone gives away Bangla wikipedia ... after all, "if you give away knowledge, it grows, unlike money". The very essence of Open source is to share ... share our knowledge and contributions with the rest of the world.

Let us make this dream come true.

50 years of Hard disks!

NewsWeek reports that, next September 13th would be the 50th anniversary of the first hard disk drive.

Steven Levy writes,
"On Sept. 13, 1956, IBM shipped the first unit of the RAMAC (Random Access Method of Accounting and Control) and set in motion a process that would change the way we live."
Change indeed! Today, we have 120 GB or more hard drives sitting on our desks, with some geeks sporting terabyte storage systems for storing their infinite collection of Star Trek trivia and Klingon love songs.

So, what was the spec for the first disk drive? Let's see what Steven Levy writes:

"The drive weighed a full ton, and to lease it you'd pay about $250,000 a year in today's dollars. Since it required a separate air compressor to protect the two moving "heads" that read and wrote information, it was noisy. The total amount of information stored on its 50 spinning iron-oxide-coated disks—each of them a pizza-size 24 inches—was 5 megabytes."

Don't laugh. Your own drive will become obsolete in your lifetime, and you'd be telling your kids that "in 2006, I had a 120GB hard disk drive". I can visualize the smirk on your grandchild's face :)

I think in future, everything will become static, flash based or some other kind of chip based memory. Hard disks are good, have a lot of capacity for a dime, but still, they consist of moving parts, and that's why they are so much prone to failure.

Anyway, I still have my first 2nd disk drive. Though it sort of sings a serenade when I try to read something off it. Perhaps it's almost time I buried it in a time capsule for an archaeologist to discover in the year 2525 ...

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

GrameenPhone Launches Online Marketplace

Reuters reports that ,

"DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh's top mobile phone operator GrameenPhone Ltd., majority-owned by Norway's Telenor, and USA-based CellBazaar have introduced a service connecting buyers and sellers in an electronic marketplace over the mobile phone.

This is the first time such a service is being launched anywhere in the world, Kamal Quadir, CEO of CellBazaar told a news conference on Tuesday.

The service will enable sellers to list details of their products, produce or even services in a database while buyers can look for any of this information through SMS.

The concept was developed at the MIT Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology."

Interesting indeed ... especially that MIT's media lab chose to implement its idea via GrameenPhone! Let's see how it turns out in the real world ...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Functional Programming Contest

I know that functional programming is not really popular with BUET students, but this might be fun: