Archive for January, 2006

Google can identify you!

January 31, 2006

Adam Fields has received unambiguous answers to a couple of very specific questions in More specific Google tracking questions:

1) “Given a list of search terms, can Google produce a list of people who searched for that term, identified by IP address and/or Google cookie value?”

2) “Given an IP address or Google cookie value, can Google produce a list of the terms searched by the user of that IP address or cookie value?”

The answer to both of them is “yes”.

Note that it is not necessary for you to be signed into your Google account or explicitly give Google consent to store information about your search activity and your IP address.

We may ask of what use it is to store IP addresses, if personal information – such as our names and home addresses – are not stored. Adam Fields answers that question in very concise and clear terms in What’s the big fuss about IP addresses?:

  • Have you ever searched for your name? Your IP address is now a key to your name in a log somewhere.
  • Have you ever ordered a product on the internet and had it shipped to you? Your IP address is now a key to your home address in a log somewhere.
  • Have you ever viewed a web page with an ad in it served from an ad network? Both the operator of the web site and the operator of the ad network have your IP address in a log somewhere, as a key to the sites you visited.

By the way, this last link about IP addresses is an excellent source for basic IP address fundas in layman’s terms.

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IIT Politicians in India!

January 31, 2006

A group of IIT graduates have formed a political party in India. The Economic Times reports in an article Tech tonic: IITians form political party:

Five IITians, all in their 20s, have decided to take up mainstream politics. The youths, based in Jodhpur, will be in the city to campaign for their national party, “ Paritrana’’ , which was launched in Jodhpur on Friday.

….

The core team of “Paritrana’ ’ comprises Rajpurohit , Shukla, Amit Beesen, also the vice president and a B Tech (Mechanical) from IIT Bombay and a LLB graduate, Chandrashekhar (national treasurer), B Tech (computer science) from IIT Kanpur, Bharat Sundaram, the PRO of the party and B Tech from IIT Kanpur and PhD in electronics from Melbourne.

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After the launch of the party at the Suchana Kendra in Jodhpur, the party members, as a part of their promotional campaign will tour Jodhpur, Udaipur, Ahmedabad, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and Chennai.

It will be interesting to watch how this group will do as they move up in the dirty world of politics. Will they remain clean? Will they manage to be true to their stated agenda (see below)? Let’s hope they do.

“Paritrana means complete relief from the various causes of distress, and that is what we want to do for our people,’’ added Chandrashekhar.

“We are not here for the power game. We are here to deal with the grassroots issues of each and every small village that we come across,’’ added Shukla.

In India, where there is extraordinary competition for almost anything, the merit requirements (academic qualifications plus relevant experience) bar is set quite high for most jobs. The candidate has to be very well qualified in order to secure a job (assuming the job is secured by honest means alone). It is amazing that in such a country, most politicians secure their jobs as legislators, parliamentarians and ministers with very little relevant qualifications and verifiable competencies such posts require. For them, it is not necessary to have proper educational qualifications or proven experience in management and effective leadership. All that is necessary is an ability to garner votes by hook or crook, and hobnob with other politico-thugs to grab and hold on to power!

I was thinking a few days back about what kind of positive changes would happen in the country, if just one major change was initiated in the political system: It should be made mandatory that anybody who aspires to contest in the elections for a political office should have at least a bachelor’s degree and should have an aggregate academic score of at least 70%.

I think such a mandate would make an enormously progressive difference to the country. No good company in India will give me a job if I don’t have similar qualifications. So, why should I not expect that the politicians who govern my country should be equally qualified?

Golmaal on KBC 2?

January 30, 2006

When a large amount of money is involved, can corruption and dirty tricks be far behind? Looks like even television game shows are not exempt to this. The most popular game show on Indian TV, Kaun Banega Crorepati 2, is in the news for the wrong reasons.This was first reported by a television news channel India TV. The Telegraph carries a subsequent report Glare on KBC 2 selection process, STAR dismisses charges:

Prem on KBC Episode 4 Prem on KBC Episode 15
(Top) Bachchan with Prem Prakash Rai in Episode 4 and in Episode 15. (Pictures from indya.com)

The news channel said that for each episode of the show, 25 lakh people had called up and 10 were to be selected. The chance of the same person getting through twice to the final round of 10 contestants is minimal. But at least five persons made it twice since the show — discontinued now because Bachchan is unable to shoot — started in August last year.

If may be one person appeared twice, we could have called it an incredible coincidence and dismissed it. But five people? Come on! It is either a real television miracle or a real case of golmaal! Just look at the kind of odds all of those five people had to beat in order to appear twice on the show. Odds as quoted in The Telegraph article:

India TV claimed things are not what they seem. Chintamani Rao, CEO, said: “It is simply a matter of mathematical probability. As the numbers get funnelled down from up to 25 lakh to 500 to 100 to 10, with a combination of skill, quotas (on zones, age and gender) and random selection at each stage, the probability of one person making it twice is near zero.”

A press release on indya.com contains the official rebuttal from Star network and the KBC show: KBC 2: Press Release. This rebuttal does not adequately explain the spectacular statistical anomaly of five beating a nation-wide competition of millions of others, to appear on the show twice. Instead, the press release simply reiterates that there is no rule preventing people from appearing twice on the show, as long as they have not actually been on the “hot seat” fielding questions from the game show host, on national television. That reiteration is totally unnecessary because nobody is contesting the rules of the game.

Attractive cable regime?!

January 28, 2006

The Hindu reports that the Chief Minister (of Tamilnadu) plans attractive new cable regime:

CHENNAI: Following the move to take over two major cable television multi-system operators, the Tamil Nadu Government is planning a new cable network regime that will lead to a substantial lowering of subscription charges for television viewers and more attractive terms for ordinary cable operators across the State. According to informed sources, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has worked out a detailed blueprint for the new regime and will unveil her ideas soon.

The new cable network regime in the State envisages that viewers in rural areas might have to pay only Rs. 50 a month to cable TV operators. In small towns, the monthly subscription might be between Rs. 60 and Rs. 70, and in big cities around Rs. 80.

What is so attractive about a “cable regime”? Just the lowered cost? But cost is not everything. What about the matter of the freedom and rights of private businesses? What about the freedom of the media companies?

I am not at all comfortable with the idea of governments controlling one whole media segment (cable television in this case) or the entire distribution of any media. How would you feel if the government tried taking over the distribution of all newspapers and magazines, and selling them only through governmental ration shops? What would you think about the government’s power to control and regulate what newspapers and magazines enjoy circulation and what don’t? What Jayalalitha’s govt is proposing to do with cable TV is very similar. Considering Jayalalitha’s obvious dictatorial tendencies, this is even more disturbing.

If Jayalalitha’s government really wanted to ensure that the cable TV service in Tamilnadu is fairly priced and the quality of service is good, there are other ways of doing that. The govt does not have to totally take over the cable TV services. It is obvious that Jayalalitha is trying to do this so that she can control what is broadcast and what is not broadcast over cable TV. This is a clear violation of freedom of the media and the people’s right to information.

Also, I am not entirely clear about the legality of the government simply “taking over” the business of private companies. What exactly does “take over” mean in this context? Is it like a corporate take over, where the government will pay a price and buy the cable TV businesses? Or is it like an autocracy, where the government will simply impose its management over the cable TV operators? It this not sheer robbery by the government? How would you feel if you were running a gorcery store, and the government took over your store and converted it into a government ration shop? Would you not consider that robbery?

I am surprised that a prominent publication like The Hindu and the rest of the Indian media in general, are not questioning this move by the Tamilnadu government, and discussing it in the light of freedom of information and freedom of private companies to legally run their businesses. Instead, they have labelled this as an “attractive” development! And they are busy covering the actions and reactions of Karunanidhi and his ilk, who are trying to protect their investments and controls in the cable TV business.

Granted that this development is just one more chapter in the bigger Chennai/Tamilnadu cable TV story involving the ill-fated Conditional Access System (CAS); and, this Tamilnadu cable TV story is itself just another volume in the DMK-vs-AIADMK saga! Nevertheless, the media would have done better to focus on the larger subject of freedom and legal aspects of this case, and less on the entertainment value of a DMK vs AIADMK tug.

Welcome to the Right Indian Blog!

January 28, 2006

Right ideas and right ideals make the right Indians.

This blog shall always express what we feel are the right ideas and the right ideals. There shall be no deviation from the truth.

satyameva jayate. vande mAtaram!