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Saturday, August 25, 2012

US Scientists Develop Camouflage Skin Paint

It has the capability to withstand temperatures of up to 600°C for 15 seconds.  

Camouflage, Camouflage Skin Paint, DEET, University of Southern Mississippi, US Department Of DefenseSaturday, August 25, 2012 While watching a war movie, have you ever noticed a camouflage skin paint that soldiers apply on their face along with the camouflage suit to get inside enemy territory undetected? It comprises the traditional make-up ingredients such as oil and wax which can not only easily melt but also burn the skin when exposed to high temperatures. Taking cognizance of this issue, a team of researchers from the University of Southern Mississippi led by Robert Lochhead has developed a camouflage skin paint that can withstand intense heat.
With its capability to resist temperatures up to 600°C for up to 15 seconds, it can protect soldiers' faces during explosions.

The scientists used silicone in the new camouflage skin paint as it does not absorb extreme heat but reflects it.

As per the rules in the US, all camouflage face paints must contain DEET--an insect repellent which under normal conditions is extremely flammable. This is the reason why the scientists decided to mix it with a water-rich hydrogel substance to ensure that it does not catch fire.

What differentiates the new paint from other heat resistant paints is the fact that it is waterproof, non-irritating and easy to apply. It can also be used on fire-proof clothes, tents, and tanks. The scientists are now working on a colourless version of this face paint for firefighters.

Milind Deora's Twitter account suspended for verification?

While Twitter and the Indian government face off over the issue of removing hate content / fake accounts, the minister of State for Communications and Information Technology, Milind Deora has found his Twitter account suspended. Users clicking on his handle (@milinddeora) are being shown a message - “account suspended: The profile you are trying to view has suspended”.


According to reports, minister's account has gone for verification but then verification normally does not lead to a temporary suspension. Wall Street Journal in its report points out that the account suspension could be due to hacking or a bonafide suspension either by Twitter or the government or some technical reason.

Deora's last tweet before his account was suspended was "Ironically, let me clarify on Twitter that there is absolutely no intent of the government to curb freedom of social media platforms."

Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien, however, has played down the issue, saying there is no controversy in the latest development. "No controversy... Milind Deora's #twitter account has been sent for 'verification'...should be up again soon I hear," O'Brien said.

Deora's account suspension comes at a time when the Indian government has asked the micro blogging website to take down various Twitter accounts and sought cooperation in removing few accounts posing as Prime Minister's Office.

According to reports, Milind Deora has been an active Twitter user and has thousands of followers. The minister recently in a tweet said Twitter should remove certain accounts and content in the wake of Assam riots. He also clarified that the government was not trying to censor the Internet but only attempting to stem circulation of rumours of misinformation among the common public.

 Source: Hindustan Times

Monday, August 20, 2012

In India, 1 in 4 Online Minutes are Spent on Social Networking Sites

Mumbai, India, August 20, 2012 - comScore, Inc. (NASDAQ: SCOR), a leader in measuring the digital world, today released a study on the top online sites and activities in India from its comScore Media Metrix service. The report found that Google Sites ranked as the top destination in June 2012 reaching nearly 95 percent of the online population, while social networking reigned as the top online activity accounting for 25.2 percent of all online minutes.

In June 2012, Google Sites ranked as the top online destinations in India reaching 57.8 million people age 15 and older accessing the Internet from a home or work computer. followed with 50.9 million visitors (83.4 percent reach), followed by Yahoo! Sites (65.5 percent reach) and Microsoft Sites (48.1 percent reach). Local web properties secured several spots in the top 10 ranking, including Times Internet Limited, reaching 33.7 percent of the online population, Network 18 (29.3 percent reach), India Ltd (25.2 percent reach) and (21.8 percent reach).
Among the top properties, visitors were most engaged on, spending an average of nearly 4 hours on the site in June. Visitors spent 2.5 hours on Google Sites, with YouTube accounting for a strong share of time spent on the property. Among local brands, Network 18 led as the most engaging property with visitors averaging 31.6 minutes during the month.

Top Online Categories by Share of Total Minutes
June 2012
Total Internet: India, Viewers Age 15+ Location Home/Work*
Source: comScore Media Metrix
  Total Unique Visitors (000) % Reach Average Minutes per Visitor
Total Internet : Total Audience 61,004 100.0% 772.5
Google Sites 57,826 94.8% 155.3 50,890 83.4% 224.9
Yahoo! Sites 39,977 65.5% 63.3
Microsoft Sites 29,363 48.1% 19.8
Wikimedia Foundation Sites 21,031 34.5% 11.1
Times Internet Limited 20,535 33.7% 16.9
Network 18 17,891 29.3% 31.6
Ask Network 15,829 25.9% 3.5 India Ltd 15,346 25.2% 28.3 13,308 21.8% 23.6
*Does not include visits from public Access computers, such as Internet cafes, mobile phones or PDAs

Social Networking Leads as Top Online Activity in India
Analysis of the top online activities in India found that social networking accounted for 25.2 percent of all time spent online in June, an increase of 0.8 percentage points from the previous year, as social media continues to be a primary driver of people’s daily digital media consumption. Entertainment sites ranked second, accounting for 10 percent of minutes (up 1.2 percentage points from the previous year), while Portals accounted for 8.8 percent of total minutes. Although it represented just 2.0 percent of total minutes, time spent on Retail sites grew 0.5 points in the past year as online shopping continued to gain adoption.

Top Online Categories by Share of Total Minutes
June 2012 vs. June 2011
Total Internet: India, Viewers Age 15+ Location Home/Work*
Source: comScore Media Metrix
  Share of Online Minutes
Jun-2011 Jun-2012 Point Change
Social Networking 24.4% 25.2% 0.8
Entertainment 8.8% 10.0% 1.2
Portals 11.4% 8.8% -2.6
e-mail 8.6% 8.1% -0.5
Search/Navigation 3.4% 3.2% -0.2
Business/Finance 2.9% 3.0% 0.1
News/Information 2.3% 2.2% -0.1
Retail 1.5% 2.0% 0.5
Instant Messengers 3.8% 2.0% -1.8
Games 1.6% 1.8% 0.2
Directories/Resources 1.6% 1.7% 0.1
*Does not include visits from public Access computers, such as Internet cafes, mobile phones or PDAs

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Now, Gift Cards, Wishlist On Google Play

play store wishlists redeem Gift Cards & Wish List support coming to Google Play Store; first images out

Google’s plans to add gift card and wish lists to Play Store were revealed earlier today, when folks over at Android Police poked through the APK of latest version of Play Store client for Android devices. 

They found evidence of upcoming integration of wish lists and gift cards in the form icons, mention in Android manifest as well as in layout resources.

Their claim was further confirmed by a tweaked version of same APK by a developer, which brought these features to the fore. The same developer shared the screenshots on Twitter showing these features.

Now that we know that Google is indeed planning to bring these features, the next question is WHEN? We don’t have the answer to that right now, but it should not take very long for the search giant.

Google is also likely to start the sales of gift cards in Play Store soon, which will allow the card holder to purchase content from Play Store without the need of Credit card or carrier billing.

play store gift cards Gift Cards & Wish List support coming to Google Play Store; first images out
exclusive images of google  play store cards at pramodtechnoblog

After Moon, ISRO Has Mars On Its Mind Next!

The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has laid its eye on Mars this time. After its successful journey to the moon, ISRO officials hope to start this project in 2013. Similar to Chandrayaan-1, this one will also be an unmanned spacecraft. 

Unlike NASA’s Curiosity rover landing on Mars, this project will study its geology while orbiting the planet. According to the news service AFP, an estimated 70 to 90 million dollars (approx. 4 to 5 billion rupees) will be spent on this project. The Government of India for the time being has allocated funds of 22.4 million dollars (1.25 billion rupees) to this project. 

 ISRO’s director Deviprasad Karnik has informed the press that the work on this Mars mission will start as soon as the Department of Science gives the permission to go through the project and prepares a schedule for next year.

Once the construction is complete the spacecraft will take flight on the 320-ton Indian Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle rocket from Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh. ISRO has also planned to conduct its first manned mission to the moon in the year 2016.

Astronomers unveil biggest 3D map of universe

A still image from a video fly-through of the SDSS-III galaxies

A still image from a video fly-through of the SDSS-III galaxies

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III), an international project mapping the Milky Way, has unveiled the biggest map of the universe in 3D. 

On Wednesday, astronomers released the map which is made by targeting almost one million galaxies and also includes new spectra from 540,000 galaxies from when the universe was half its present age.

According to scientists, the six-year project which aims to “survey a quarter of the entire sky” began in 2008 at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. 

Covering a huge volume corresponding to that of a cube four billion light-years on a side, the map assists scientists in determining the exact locations and distances of more than one million galaxies.

“The current survey is the most extensive ever done and has more than three times the volume of the previous record-holder,” said Daniel Eisenstein the director of the project.

“We want to map the largest volume of the universe yet, and to use that map to understand how the expansion of the universe is accelerating,” he added. 

Using the map, which helps the researchers to retrace the history of the universe, the scientist involved in the project strive to come up with a convincing explanation of the dark matter and dark energy that makes up 96 percent of the world. 

Last year, the SDSS-III released the largest ever color image of the whole sky composed of seven million images, each made of 125 million pixels.

The current survey is the most extensive ever done and has more than three times the volume of the previous record-holder.”
                                                                     Daniel Eisenstein, director of SDSS-III

Hackers Can Change Marks Scored By Students In Kerala CEE

An expert cyber criminal can modify the seating arrangement of the entrance exam and also manipulate marks scored by any student in the Kerala State government’s Commissioner of Entrance Examinations.

cyber criminals, kerala CEE, kerala common entrance exam
Thursday, August 16, 2012:  Kerala State government’s Commissioner of Entrance Examinations website has a serious security vulnerability that can allow hackers to tamper with the database of the Common Entrance Exam. Students from all over India, look up to the common entrance tests for admissions to higher education colleges. The potential security loophole was brought to light by a prominent whitehat hacker, who contacted Tech and explained the entire scenario.

According to the Tech 2 report, “a hacker can use modified URLs to introduce an SQL injection that lets an attacker manipulate a database related to the Centralized Seat Allotment Process for Professional Degree Courses, 2012 (” In the worst case scenario, the attacker can “easily manipulate results to make people believe they have gained admission (or failed to do so).”

Recently, the office of the CEE acknowledged the information and replied that, “they have begun working to rectify the vulnerability.” The website had previously reported a similar security issue with BSNL's corporate network but the state run telecom giant did not pay much heed to the warning.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Aakash Awards Scholarship Worth Rs. 14 Crores Nationwide To Avail Its Classroom Coaching Programs

Friday, August 17, 2012 Aakash, India’s no.1 institute for Medical and Engineering coaching makes an effort to relive its vision of becoming one of the finest educational groups. It is conducting a National Talent Hunt Exam ANTHE 2012 all over India. This is their third consecutive effort to facilitate the most deserving students to achieve their goal of becoming a Doctor or an Engineer. Last year over 40,000 students appeared in the ANTHE 2011 to be among top 800 students. This year also, 800 worthy students from the 10th standard will toil hard for this lifetime opportunity of coaching with Aakash Institute worth Rs. 14 crores, free of cost.
The exams will be held in two stages at centers spread across the nation. The last date of form submission by post would be the November 24th 2012 and the last date for late submission by hand at the centers would be November 28th 2012, with late fee attached.

The first stage of the ANTHE 2012 would start with a preliminary exam on the 2nd December 2012 (Sunday) and the results for the same would be announced on the 11th of December 2012. The results would be displayed on the website mentioning the names of the top 3200 students qualifying for the second stage of the exam. A student must score at least 60% marks in Stage-I, in addition to his/her ranking in Top 3200, in order to qualify to appear for Stage-II.

The ANTHE 2012 would conclude with the main exams in the second stage. The main exams would be conducted on the 23rd December 2012 and the results for the same would be announced on the 6th January 2013. The result shall be displayed on our website, mentioning the names of 800 students who shall be offered free Two Years Classroom Coaching at any Centre of Aakash across India. A student must score at least 60% marks in Stage-II, in addition to his/her ranking in Top 800 to qualify for the scholarship. 75% of the total seats would be given to the qualifying IIT-JEE aspirants and 25% of the seats would be given to the qualifying Medical aspirants.

Now Call India From UK, USA For Free! - Matrix Cellular

matrix cellular, matrix calling offers, international roaming

Telephone bills cut a big hole in the pockets of Indian travelers where a customer has to shell out almost Rs 140 per minute to make calls from UK to India and around Rs 250 per minute when calling from USA on International roaming. Now, Matrix Cellular will bring a big smile on your face with its cheapest calling schemes.

Matrix in partnership with T-mobile in UK and AT&T in USA has introduced an exceptional plan in which subscribers can talk to their friends and family members in India for free. Also, a main attraction is that the users will get free incoming calls for people traveling to the UK. Matrix has always experimented with different schemes, especially targeting international travelers, but an offer like this has never appeared before.

Matrix has not stopped its goodies at calling only. Customers can even surf the Internet on their mobile phones and tablets on International roaming at peace, as the cost of International Data Roaming charges is one-tenth on Matrix's mobile packages. It has been observed that when someone travels to the UK and USA, making calls to India accounts for nearly 60 per cent of one’s International Roaming bills.

Hack Google Chrome To Win Prizes Worth $2 Million

Google Chrome, Google hacking contest, Pwnium 2, Pwnium

Friday, August 17, 2012 Internet search giant, Google as a part of its second Pwnium contest, has challenged security researchers by announcing that any person who can find and exploit vulnerabilities in its Chrome Web browser will be awarded up to $2 million worth of prizes. Google announced that it will pay $60,000 for hacks that fully exploit its Chrome and Chromium browsers. Also, a "partial Chrome exploit," such as one that combines a bug in Chrome's native code base with a bug in Windows, will be awarded $50,000. A "non-Chrome exploit" in Adobe Flash, Windows or other app will fetch $40,000.

So are there any takers? Well, we will have to wait for a while as the competition is scheduled for October 10 at the Hack In The Box security conference in Malaysia. "You may have noticed that we've compressed the reward levels closer together for Pwnium 2. This is in response to feedback, and reflects that any local account compromise is very serious. We're happy to make the web safer by any means—even rewarding vulnerabilities outside of our immediate control,” said Google software engineer Chris Evans in a blog post.

Google will award prizes until the $2 million threshold is reached. It gave out just $120,000 worth of awards during the first Pwnium contest in March. The competition brought out two exploits that were noteworthy because they relied entirely on code native to Chrome to break out of its highly regarded security sandbox. Among the winners of the first Pwnium contest was a 19-year-old hacker who went by the moniker Pinkie Pie who won one of the $60,000 prizes.

Books and JavaScript stored in DNA molecules

Forget flash – the computers of the future might store data in DNA. George Church of the Wyss Institute at Harvard University and colleagues have encoded a 53,400-word book, 11 JPG images and a JavaScript program – amounting to 5.27 million bits of data in total – into sequences of DNA. In doing so, they have beaten the previous record set by J. Craig Venter's team in 2010 when they encoded a 7920-bit watermark in their synthetic bacterium.

DNA is one of the most dense and stable media for storing information known. In theory, DNA can encode two bits per nucleotide. That's 455 exabytes – roughly the capacity of 100 billion DVDs – per gram of single-stranded DNA, making it five or six orders denser than currently available digital media, such as flash memory. Information stored in DNA can also be read thousands of years after it was first laid down.

Until now, however, the difficulty and cost involved in reading and writing long sequences of DNA has made large-scale data storage impractical. Church and his team got round this by developing a strategy that eliminates the need for long sequences. Instead, they encoded data in distinct blocks and stored these in shorter separate stretches.

The strategy is exactly analogous to data storage on a hard drive, says co-author Sriram Kosuri, where data is divided up into discrete blocks called sectors.

The team has also applied their strategy in practice. They converted a JavaScript program, and a book co-written by Church, into bit form. They then synthesised DNA to repeat that sequence of bits, encoding one bit at every DNA base. The DNA bases A or C encoded a '0', while G and T encoded a '1'.

Because the DNA is synthesised as the data is encoded, the approach doesn't allow for rewritable data storage. A write-only DNA molecule is still suitable for long-term archival storage, though. "I don't want to say [rewriting is] impossible," says Kosuri, "but we haven't yet looked at that."

But the result does show that DNA synthesis and sequencing technologies have finally progressed to the stage where integrating DNA sequence information into a storage medium is a real possibility, says Dan Gibson at the J. Craig Venter Institute in La Jolla, California, who was part of Venter's team in 2010. "Cost, speed and instrument size currently make this impractical for general use, but the field is moving fast, and the technology will soon be cheaper, faster and smaller," he says.

Nanotechnology at your fingertips

OUR fingers are precision instruments, but there are plenty of things they are not sensitive enough to detect. Now we can augment their talents – using wearable electronic fingertips that provide tingling feedback about whatever we touch.

John Rogers of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and colleagues have designed a flexible circuit that can be worn over the fingertips. It contains layers of gold electrodes just a few hundred nanometres thick, sandwiched between layers of polyimide plastic to form a "nanomembrane". This is mounted on a finger-shaped tube of silicone rubber, allowing one side of the circuit to be in direct contact with the fingertips. On the other side, sensors can be added to measure pressure, temperature or electrical properties such as resistance.

People wearing the device receive electrotactile stimulation – a tingling sensation caused by a small voltage applied to the skin. The size of the voltage is controlled by the sensor and varies depending on the properties of the object being touched.

Surgical gloves are one potential application. Rogers, who worked with colleagues at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and Dalian University of Technology in China, says gloves fitted with the nanomembrane could sense the thickness or composition of tissue via its electrical properties. A surgeon could also whittle away at the tissue using a high-frequency alternating current supplied by a battery attached at the wrist and delivered via the nanomembrane itself, says Rogers.

Fiorenzo Omenetto at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, is impressed. "The work sets the stage for a new generation of devices," he says.

There are applications beyond surgery, too. MC10, the company commercialising the technology, is running animal trials of a nanomembrane "sock" that can be wrapped around the heart. This provides a 3D map of its electrical activity, useful in treating irregular heartbeat.

MC10 is also working with medical device company Medronic to use the membrane inside the heart, sending it in on a limp balloon, which is then inflated to push the membrane onto the heart's interior walls.
Rogers says MC10 is also collaborating with sportswear firm Reebok on a product to be launched by the end of this year. The aim is to build a "body-worn piece of electronics" designed for contact sports, although Rogers declined to say exactly how it will be used.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Who needs a license? Self-driving cars coming our way

DETROIT: It's been more than half a century since some of the first concept cars boasting self-driving features were presented to the world and they're still not on the roads.

But many auto executives say the industry is on the cusp of welcoming vehicles that make the idea of keeping both hands on the wheel an anachronism.

General Motors
showed off "dream cars" in the late 1950s like the Firebird II and Cadillac Cyclone with features automakers are now starting to roll out in new models as the technology, based on sensors, lasers, radar systems, GPS, cameras and microchips -- improves and becomes less costly.

While most industry officials don't envision a fully self-driving, or autonomous, vehicle before 2025, features such as adaptive cruise control or traffic jam assist that automatically slow or apply the brakes for a car in certain situations are already being introduced. And much like anti-lock brakes became the norm after initial resistance, these new technologies will prepare drivers for a future where they are needed less.

"The whole concept of a car being able to drive itself is pretty profound," said Larry Burns, GM's former research and development chief and an adviser for Google's self-driving car project. "This is the most transformational play to hit the auto industry in 125 years."

The progress has been in the making for decades as GM's Firebird II, introduced in 1956, included a system to work with an electrical wire embedded in the highway to guide the car. Three years later, the rocket-like Cyclone boasted an autopilot system that steered the car and radar in front nose cones that warned of a collision and automatically applied the brakes.

However, the pace of invention has quickened, with such automakers as GM, Ford Motor Co, Toyota Motor Corp

and Volkswagen AG developing technologies to help drivers avoid accidents. Some even envision a future where today's cars are more amusement.

"In the same way we all used to travel on horses and now horses are entertainment, you could imagine automobiles driven by people becoming more entertainment," said Chris Urmson, the Google program's technical head.

In a world where Nevada and Florida have already passed laws allowing the licensing of self-driving cars, the rush is on to make the job easier for drivers. For many, the ultimate goal is to take the steering wheel totally out of consumers' hands and eliminate accidents altogether.

"Once we have a car that will never crash, why don't we let it drive?" said Nady Boules, GM's director of autonomous technology development.

However, Boules and executives like him will have to win over a public that includes those who love to drive or simply wouldn't trust their lives to a robot. Others, like long-haul truckers, could resist the technology for fear of job losses.

'Maoist post' on hacked Trinamool Congress site

KOLKATA: A webpage on the official Trinamool Congress website - https:// - which records important announcements by chief minister Mamata Banerjee was hacked and made to look like the CM had apologised to Maoists.


Trinamool's cyber team removed the offensive post within minutes. The hackers called themselves the 'Anonymous Group' and left a San Diego forwarding address. The group had earlier defaced the CID webpage and the health department portal.

The Trinamool website was hacked at 7.30 pm and detected within six minutes by the party's cyber team that works round-the-clock , updating the site every 15 minutes, said a Trinamool leader. The post began with "I am a Maoist" and referred to the recent Belpahari incident. Agency reports said that Mamata's 'diary' on the website was redirected to a page on "Anonymous India" on a social networking site.

Trinamool cyber experts took screen shots of the post, which were used by party state president Subrata Bakshi to lodge a complaint.

Abhishek Banerjee, president of the All India Trinamool Yuva, who looks after the party's cyber intiatives, said: "Trinamool has the strongest cyber presence among all political parties in India. This was a clear attempt to play mischief which was detected immediately and prompt action was taken. Our website has adequate firewalls." The entire website was not defaced, said a leader. "It was a single post inserted by bypassing the website administrator's access," said a cyber team member. The website was restored by 9.30pm.

Zen Ultratab A100

A potentially affordable option for tablet hunters in India, the Zen Ultratab A100 is up for grabs within the country. For the first phase of the launch, this device will be exclusively available via online retailer, HomeShop 18.

 video source digit channel on youtube

A 7-inch, 800 x 480 touch panel dominates the low-cost tablet’s front panel that is 181.5mm long and 121mm wide. Accompanying the display is a 1.3MP front camera that offers digital zoom and facilitates video conferencing while on the move. Based on the Android 4.0.3 OS, it draws steam from a 1.2GHz processor. There is also an incorporated Mali 400 GPU that caters towards enhancing graphics. To make extra space for content, the slate supports memory expandability up to 32GB via TF cards.

Deepesh Gupta, Managing Director, Zen Mobile, stated, “By managing our expertise in selling and distributing the reasonably priced and best mobile phones in the Indian market, we feel that the technology should be available at every corner in India. We have collaborated with – India’s leading virtual shopping destination with the most robust logistics footprint so that customers in smaller cities can also purchase this powerful tab from the convenience of their homes.”

Weighing around 295g so that it’s not merely light on the wallet, the slab is juiced up by a 2800mAh battery that is apparently capable of delivering 14 hours of web usage or 3.5 hours of 720p video playback. Internet buffs can take advantage of applications pre-installed on the Zen Mobile Ultratab A100 to conveniently reach social networking websites like Twitter and Facebook. The Readers Hub permits access to eBooks, eNewspapers and a lot more, while the Music Hub can be utilized to pick up the latest tracks. This device also comes pre-loaded with the movie Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara.

The Zen Ultratab A100 price in India is marked at Rs. 6,199.

Dell helped power NASA's Curiosity rover to Mars

NASA’s Mars rover, Curiosity, landed safely on the Red Planet on Sunday, and Dell actually had a small hand in the mission.

Boasted to be "considered the most complication portion of the mission," the Round Rock, Texas-based corporation reports that the landing sequence was formulated by two NASA High Performance Computing (HPC) clusters running Dell PowerEdge servers.

Jere Carroll, general manager of civilian agencies at the Dell Federal unit, touted in prepared remarks that Dell's involvement reflects "Dell’s mission to provide customers with a full spectrum of IT hardware and services, helping them to accomplish their mission more effectively and efficiently."

Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, the clusters, dubbed Galaxy and Nebula, provided support to the Curiosity rover for analyzing large amounts of mission test data needed to correctly prepare the rover for entering the atmosphere and landing it on Mars. 

The final landing sequence parameters were developed by the mission team, which was tested and validated using the Dell-based HPC clusters. The whole sequence was uploaded last week to Curiosity.

For reference, Curiosity is also referred to as the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), and it weighs nearly 2,000 pounds. It landed last night roughly 36 weeks after it left Earth.

Curiosity's mission is to look for evidence as to whether or not life ever existed on the fourth planet from the Sun.

NASA completes 'brain transplant' on Curiosity rover

LOS ANGELES: NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, has announced that it has completed "brain transplant" on Mars rover Curiosity.

As its main and backup computers have been successfully upgraded with new software after a four-day effort, Curiosity is now a big step closer to begin its mission of finding out whether life has ever existed on Mars, according to the JPL.

Curiosity has been on the surface of Mars for over a week now since it successfully touched down Aug 5, reported Xinhua.

JPL announced on Friday that Curiosity would undergo a "brain transplant" for four days during the weekend to update the software on the rover's main and backup computers, a necessary step before Curiosity can begin roving.

"We have successfully completed the brain transplant," said Curiosity mission manager Mike Watkins at the JPL.

"Now we are moving on to a new phase of functional checkouts of the science instruments and preparations for a short test drive," he added.

The first drive, possibly within a week or so, will likely include short forward and reverse segments and a turn.

Curiosity has a separate drive motor on each of its six wheels and steering motors on the four corner wheels. Preparation and testing of the motor controllers will precede the first drive, according to JPL.

After the test drive, the planning schedule has an "intermission" before a second testing phase focused on use of the rover's robotic arm.

For the intermission, the 400-member science team will have the opportunity to pick a location for Curiosity to drive to before the arm-testing weeks, the JPL said.

"It's fair to say that the scientists, not to mention the rover drivers, are itching to move," said JPL's Ashwin Vasavada, deputy project scientist for Curiosity.

Scientists at the JPL uploaded the new software from Pasadena onto Curiosity, which had travelled 350 million miles to reach the Mars.

While the new software sat dormant, the spacecraft used flight software optimized to direct it through the Martian atmosphere and safely land on target in the Gale Crater on the Martian surface, according to the JPL.

Scientists said the newly uploaded software is optimised to drive the rover, operate the robotic arm and scoop up and analyse soil samples.

With that software successfully loaded, engineers are back to testing the rover's various operational and scientific instruments.

Scientists calculated that it would take several weeks to get Curiosity ready to work on Mars when it first landed and had hoped that the rover would drive by early September.

"Today, they're building their code from scratch," said Watkins.

"The first few days after landing, they had a pretty solid script. All that was on board and they activated it with small changes. Now, we're assembling all this from scratch on the ground," said Watkins.

Google+ Launches Vanity URL Feature for Select Users

google plus launches vanity urls

On Monday afternoon, Google announced that it had launched a custom URL feature for a select few Google+ profiles and pages. The change, which was desperately needed and over three years after Facebook offered its users this same functionality, will allow big brands and personalities to replace strings of more than 20 random numerical digits with an easy to remember URL. For example, Google+ can now use the vanity URL of instead of asking users to remember

Saurabh Sharma, a Product Manager for Google+, posted the following to the Official Google+ Page:
 “Today we’re introducing custom URLs to make it even easier for people to find your profile on Google+. A custom URL is a short, easy to remember web address that links directly to your profile or page on Google+. For instance, +TOYOTA can now use to unveil their latest models, +Britney Spears can share her upcoming appearances at, +Ubisoft can share game trailers and videos at, and +Delta can help travelers find great deals at”

Although the new vanity URL feature is already live for some verified Google+ profiles and pages, the announcement indicated that the social network is not ready to provide this new feature to normal users. However, Sharma did indicate that Google plans to roll out the new feature for all Google+ users in the future, but he failed to say when it could be expected.

 Until now, it was nearly impossible to remember the URL of a Google+ profile or page. Do you think the addition of vanity URLs will increase the number of brands using traditional print, television, and radio media to promote their pages?

Google invites Jodhpur boy to California headquarter

JODHPUR: A youth from the city has been chosen among 50 computer experts from across the globe by Google in its Mentor Summit to be held at its headquarter in California on October 20-21, this year. The objective of this summit is to bring together the mentors of the Google Summer of Code 2012, which is a global programme that offers student developers stipends to write code for various open source software projects.

This youth of Jodhpur, Aditya Maheshwari is not only one of the two Indians invited by Google for this summit but is the youngest among all the 50 participants. He has also been nominated as the Campus Ambassador of Gujarat for the Open Source Software Development by the IIT-Mumbai in 2011, under which, over 20 seminars have been conducted across the country for the students of Computer students.

This summit will have deliberations over simplification of the Open Source Software and contribution by the Google in this simplification. "There will be 3 components of this summit, which are how to improve the programme, how Google can do more for open source and how mentors and representatives of development communities can help one another," Maheshwari said.

Maheshwari, who will be presenting a paper on "How to attract youth for contribution in development cycle of open source world," has been chosen by the Google for playing an exemplary role as the on-line project guide on world level as a student mentor of Google Summer of Code 2012.

Since its inception in 2005, this programme has brought together nearly 5,500 successful student participants and over 3,000 mentors from over 100 countries worldwide, all for the love of code.

Online job demand rises marginally

NEW DELHI: After two consecutive months of decline, recruitment activities in India witnessed a moderate improvement in July, a survey by job portal says. The Monster.Com's employment index, a monthly gauge of the country's online job demand, rose by 2 points (1.58%) to 128 in July, from 126 points in the previous month.

On an year-on-year basis, the index level has risen by 4% from 123 points recorded in July 2011. "Monster Employment Index growth trend reflect the cautious approach of employers amid the current economic scenario," managing director for India, Middle- East and South East Asia Sanjay Modi said.

A sectoral analysis showed that even amid tough economic conditions, hiring in sectors including healthcare, advertising, tourism, media, logistics and shipping continued. The employment index is an indicator of monthly online demand for jobs.

It is based on a real-time review of employer job opportunities culled from a large, representative selection of online career outlets, including Monster India. The month saw an increase in demand for technically qualified professionals in customer service, engineering, senior management, marketing & communications, health care, logistics, hospitality, legal and in the arts and creative field.

In terms of cities, out of the 13 under review, only Mumbai saw a decline in online demand for jobs. In Hyderabad, Kolkata and Chandigarh demand remained unchanged while it increased in the rest of the cities being monitored.

Smaller I.T Companies can now compete with IBM, Cognizant,Hitachi.....

BANGALORE: Smaller outsourcing providers are increasingly able to have a seat at the global IT outsourcing deal negotiation table, alongside big-ticket players like IBM, Accenture and Capgemini - thanks to customers now breaking up large deals into smaller components.

With the global economy slowing and cost pressures rising,
IT customers do not want to put all their eggs in one basket. For instance, a $300-million deal, which potentially would stretch up to $500 million in three years, is often broken into multiple pieces and given to three or four mid-tier vendors, instead of the entire contract being given to a single or the existing vendor. And while it may be more complicated to manage multiple vendors, the overall cost still comes down.

And it's not just the
Indian IT companies that are benefiting from smaller contracts. It's benefiting the relatively smaller companies elsewhere too - like T-Systems (Germany), XChanging (US), Atos Origin and Steria (France), the IT arms of Fujitsu and Hitachi (Japan), the IT divisions of Samsung and LG (South Korea ), and Neusoft and VanceInfo Technologies (China). BPO deals are increasingly seeing the presence of companies like ExlServices, Genpact and WNS, alongside IBM, Accenture and ACS.

"The landscape has changed," says Sid Pai, partner in research and consulting firm Information Services Group. "From 10 to 12 bidders for a deal some time ago to as many as 45 bidders today, the basket has really expanded with many local players participating in the process.''

Ankita Vashistha, managing director of IT consulting and research firm Tholons, says in some cases big players like
IBM and Accenture have lost contracts to small upcoming players.

Mid/small tier companies, she says, are not equipped to handle billion dollar projects that are spread across a number of years, but they are the apt choice when it comes to small discretionary projects. "You can see more of Indian mid-tier firms -- like
MindTree, Hexaware, Omnitech, iGate, Tech Mahindra -- in global bids now,'' says Vashistha.

Contract durations have also come down -- from 5-10 years to 3 years and less. Companies don't want to block money over a number of years. They want the flexibility to change suppliers based on the market conditions and the company's financial and operational health.

So billion dollar deals are things of the past. Many deals are happening in the $200 million range, but the biggest battleground is the $100 million space. Every time a deal comes up for renewal, there's a good chance for a new service provider to come in.

Amneet Singh, VP (global sourcing) at advisory firm Everest Group, says specialized IT firms have compelling value propositions to offer. "These firms compete with big
IT players on pricing and domain expertise," he says.

Atos for instance specializes in SAP implementation. Some niche players have endto-end capabilities, from consulting and technology to tech support. "Tech clients are convinced about the domain expertise and capabilities of some of these companies," says Sundararaman Viswanathan, engagement manager at Zinnov Management Consulting.

Tech Mahindra appoints CP Gurnani as MD

Mahindra Satyam CEO CP Gurnani
MUMBAI: Tech Mahindra has appointed CP Gurnani, credited with the turnaround of the scam-hit Mahindra Satyam, as its managing director. "CP's journey as the turnaround CEO is now complete and I congratulate him as he takes on this additional critical responsibility," Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra said in a statement.

The decision was taken at the board meeting which was held in Mumbai on last Friday, the statement added. Mahindra Group had announced amalgamation of its two technology companies under which Mahindra Satyam was merged with parent Tech Mahindra, creating a $2.4-billion entity.

In April 2009, Tech Mahindra took over the reins of Satyam Computer Services — which was hit by a multibillion dollar accounting scam by its then promoter B Ramalinga Raju— by picking up a 31% stake for $351 million, in a deal monitored by the government. The company was rebranded as Mahindra Satyam.

"Tech Mahindra has been instrumental in shaping my career and the opportunity at Mahindra Satyam helped me build on that foundation," Gurnani said. Earlier, he headed Tech Mahindra's global operations, sales and marketing functions, and led the development of the company's competency and solution units.

He is an alumnus of the National Institute of Technology (NIT), Rourkela, and has held several key positions in IT companies such as Hewlett Packard, Perot Systems (India) and HCL in his career of over 31 years.

Motorola Mobility to 'shrink operations' in India; to cut 4,000 jobs

According to a latest update, the ailing mobile phone maker Motorola Mobility has told its employees that it is planning to lay off 20 percent of its workforce and close a third of its 94 offices worldwide. If reports are to be believed, it will shrink operations in Asia and India, and center for research & development in Chicago, Sunnyvale and Beijing.

It is reportedly said that the latest cuts are the first step in Google's plan to reinvent Motorola, which has fallen far behind its biggest competitors, Apple and Samsung.

To rewind: Earlier in August 2011, Google has announced its plans to buy phone-maker Motorola for its 17,000 patents and 7,500 patent applications. Further, it completed Motorola Mobility for US $12.5 billion in May 2012.
It is believed; the latest deal between Google and Motorola will boost Google's competitive edge in the mobile device market as well as give search engine’s access to Motorola's range of Android powered offerings. This way, the deal is likely to be beneficial for both the companies.

Dennis Woodside, Motorola's new Chief Executive Officer has shared his view in an interview about Motorola’s plans to reduce work force. He stated, one-third of the 4,000 job cut will be in the United States.

Besides the upcoming job cuts, Google has also gutted Motorola management by letting go 40 percent of its Vice Presidents. In addition, it also hired new senior executives.

Market experts believe, Motorola is planning to leave unprofitable markets, stop making low-end devices and focus on a few cellphones instead of dozens. This way, Google is trying to shore up its Android mobile business and expand beyond search and software to hardware manufacturing.