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INTEL INSIDE. Pacemaker for India

The list of the fund receivers from the chipmaker reads like a who's who of successful enterprises, writes Deepak Mankar.

business Updated: Dec 17, 2005 19:20 IST

Security may not be top-of-the-mind with most home PC users. So it seems if the findings of a recent survey by America Online and the National Cyber Security Alliance are on target. Around 81 per cent lack at least one of the three critical types of security devices. Use of firewalls and antivirus software is improving, though. That's the overall takeaway. Going into details, a firewall (44 per cent), updated antivirus software (56 per cent) and anti-spyware protection (38 per cent) are the critical security defences they don't have. "Even though most consumers think they are protected, this study shows the opposite. Far too many people still lack the three fundamental protections they need to stay safe online." That's how Ron Teixeira, National Cyber Security Alliance's executive director, summed up the situation. But all is not lost. The number of homes with properly configured firewall protections improved from 28 per cent a year ago to 56 per cent, partly owing to the default firewall installed with Windows XP Service Pack 2. Also, home PC users with recently updated antivirus software on their computers rose to 44 per cent this year (33 per cent a year ago). The number of PCs with spyware and adware installed onto their systems fell to 61 per cent this year from 80 per cent last year, though. P.S.: The main reason for my including this US-centric item right at the beginning of this week's column is to remind all my readers to update home PC security for safe and unhindered surfing as well as offline work.techrepublic.com

INTEL INSIDE. Pacemaker for India.

Intel really, really feels for India, I reckon. "India has evolved into one of the world's leading technology centers," says Craig Barrett, the chipmaker's chairman. Intel's investment in this country over the past decade in R&D facilities and funding for about 40 local firms totals up to $700 million as of now. The list of the fund receivers reads like a who's who of successful enterprises. Among them, the better-known are: NIIT (global computer education and services); Sasken Communication Technologies (telecom software); Rediff.com (portal); Deccanet Designs (communications design and software services); FutureSoft (telecommunications product and services); India Infoline.com (portal); Nipuna Services (business process outsourcing provider); and Tejas Networks (telecom products for the Indian market segment). In early December, Intel pledged a further $1 billion to India. Of this, $800 million will go over the coming five years into expanding its R&D center in Bangalore with around 2,800 employees currently. Another $250 million will go into creating a fund for investing in several Indian technology firms "to help stimulate local technology innovation and growth." Also: "Investing in education and providing 21st-century skills for students are fundamental components to the nation's continued growth and prosperity," says Mr. Barrett. Over the next three years, the company plans to train 500,000 teachers (twice those who did the course in the last five years) to use technology through the Intel Teach to the Future program. Intel will also expand its after-school Intel Learn program for students in at least six states via more than 300 community centers. redherring.com.

'BLOGOSPHERIC!' Or, gaga over blogs.

The New York Times' new blogging initiative prompted Jonathan Landman, Deputy Managing Editor, to write an e-mail to the staff on 7 December 2005, which kicks off with "We're blogospheric." His key observations are the following. About David Carr's 'Carpetbagger': "It's full of links to film publications and blogs and web sites … hopes to start a lively conversation. Nothing is more important to the future of our web ambitions than to engage our sophisticated readers. Blogs are one way to do it." About newspaper folks versus bloggers: "Blogs make some newspaper people nuts; they're partisan, the thinking goes, and unfair and mean-spirited and sloppy about facts. Newspapers make some bloggers nuts; they think we're dull and slow and pompous and jealous guardians of unearned 'authority'." About the 'real nature' of blogging: "a blog is nothing more than a piece of technology. It allows people to compile thoughts, connect with others and interact quickly with readers. … It has no inherent ethical or moral quality, though it does have its own special power." About the NYT approach to blogging: "… our new blogs are more than running commentary." And: "We'll use the technology our way. Our bloggers will have editors. …will observe our normal standards of fairness and care … won't float rumors or take journalistic shortcuts. … We'll encourage readers to post their thoughts, but we'll screen them first to make sure the conversation is civil. … We will use blogs to convey information, sometimes in conventional ways, sometimes not-so. Our notions of journalistic responsibility are perfectly compatible with spirited fun. … [but] [b]logging does impose obligations. Blogs have to be updated frequently. … carefully tended." cyberjournalist.net.

FLOG THE BLOG? And, make money.

The New York Times bought About.com, a network of 500 sites each focusing on an information niche - 57,000 topics and a library of 1.2 million pieces of content - for $410 million in February. At that time, Rafat Ali, the publisher of PaidContent.org, a Web site covering the direct-marketing business, shrewdly labeled it as the Times' "blog strategy", keeping in mind (one presumes) the nature of the acquired property (please see above). The Times now plans to market About.com to advertisers pitching the vast cache of niche information as opportunities for target marketing by advertisers, according to Scott B. Meyer, president and chief executive of About.com. "We're probably the biggest site that is least known in terms of what we can deliver to advertisers," he said at the recent Search Engine Strategies show. (About.com drew 29 million unique users nationally and 47 million worldwide in October, reveals Nielsen//NetRatings.) No less a mainstream advertiser than Wal-Mart offers the 'shining example' by advertising throughout the About.com site (parenting, entertainment, electronics and gadgets). Users clicking on the ads are linked to related products offered on the retailer's Web site. "It's about relevancy," adds Mark W. Westlake, senior vice president of sales and marketing for About.com. "We provide relevancy for advertisers at scale." dmnews.com.

FIRST IN THE WORLD. 'Code 4 Bill' contest in India.

Maybe the last announcement made by Bill Gate at the end of his India trip was a countrywide talent hunt - the very first in the world - in which the winner's booty includes an opportunity to work for a year directly with Bill Gates Technical Assistants. "India is the first country where students will get this opportunity to learn about cutting-edge product development and innovations affecting the world by working directly with Microsoft's Product Development and Research teams." Apparently, Gates' rationale is to "develop native talent in India" and "identify India's best student technologists". "Talent is what powers the success of the global IT economy today. Indian students are setting high standards in the industry. It's very important for India to maintain this edge, and continue to nurture and develop its students so they can drive India's progress as an IT leader," said Gates. redherring.com.

VIDEO DOG! Salon's Vlog.

Does every dog have his day? Salon has just unleashed Video Dog salon.com, a basic vlog requiring QuickTime v. 6.5 and higher. (To get a free day pass to Salon, you've to either watch a 'brief advertisement' or take the premium, i.e., paid option.) Video Dog is slated to showcase "a lot of cable news shouting matches and gaffes" like "the worst political obfuscations, along with the best joke of the night on 'Letterman,' the worst local news teaser ever, the highlight of last night's 'Survivor' or just some looped footage of newscasters falling down during a hurricane". hcyberjournalist.net.

INDIA'S MOBILE BOOM LURES EA. Indiagames is the lucky winner.

India's $2.5-billion cell phone market is the fastest growing in the world. 2 million new subscribers join it every month. It is expected to grow to 75 million subscribers by the year's end, claims the Cellular Operators Association of India. And, it's already attracting attention and global profit seekers. Electronic Arts - well-known for the Need for Speed series and The Sims 2 - has joined hands with Indiagames to distribute its products here, initially for one year. "Indiagames is a key partner for us as we expand our business …to mobile content in the burgeoning Indian marketplace," said Jon Niermann, president of EA Asia Publishing. redherring.com.

SEX SELLS! In domain names, too.

The most requested European Union Web domains are sex.eu, hotel.eu, travel.eu, jobs.eu and hotels.eu, says EURid, the registrar for the new .eu domain. The European Registry of Internet Domain Names eurid.eu is the full moniker, in case you didn't know.

That's all for now though there's plenty more out there. Join me again next week, same place.

Copyright (c) 2001- 2005 by Deepak Mankar. All rights reserved. Deepak Mankar, an advertising practitioner on the creative side since 1965, is also intensely passionate about the web and web content creation. Read his online articles at asiaondemand.com. Website: http://www.addgandhi.com/original/. You may e-mail him at dmankar@bom8.vsnl.net.in.

First Published: Dec 17, 2005 19:20 IST