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With HP's Decline, Should Microsoft Start Making Computers?

The Atlantic has carried a brief story on the notion that since HP is exiting the hardware business, it might be wise for Microsoft to jump in an become a PC maker. I’m sure there will plenty of people on both sides of this argument.

This is most likely not a new idea, but perhaps one that may warrant serious consideration in Redmond.

Check out the full article here.

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Google: 102 Acquisitions in 11 Years

Google’s recent acquisition of Motorola came like a smack out of nowhere. Who would have thought that the internet search giant would make a headlong foray in the world of hardware? Experts opined that this was only a matter of time given that to take on Apple would require a significant investment in the hardware space. It was definitely a smart move to jump in acquire a company whose position in the industry was in question.

Did you know that in the last 11 years, Google has acquired 102 companies from all over the world?

This is just another excuse to post another infographic.

Google - 11 Years of Acquisitions

The Man, The Cars – A Historical Background of the Vehicles Driven by Agent 007

I love infographics. The people who design them are clever, to say the least.

You can find infographics for almost anything these days.

Here’s a gem that I came across:

James Bond's Cars
Source: CarBuzz.com

Crowds: Celebration & Liberation

It occurred to me on Friday as I traveled from my hotel in Stuttgart to the AMG facility in Aafalterbach that I was missing what has been touted as the wedding of the century. An estimate 1 million people gathered at the gates of Buckingham Palace to cheer the new Duke & Duchess of Cambridge and watch them kiss.

It was disheartening to see the disproportionate coverage that the media gave to another set of crowds that were gathering in towns and cities across Syria on a “day of rage” demanding liberation from an oppressive regime.

While commentators were falling all over each other to toast Catherine Middleton’s wedding dress, drawing comparisons to Prince William’s mother and speculating on what would happen that night at the celebratory dinner, a hapless public in Syria was laying down their lives inspired by the successes of their brothers and sisters in Egypt.

Some media outlets claimed they had no access to the country to be able to report the news. This shocks me when I think about the number of western journalists who were jumping at an opportunity to be embedded with military troops in Afghanistan and Iraq during the peak of those conflicts – much more dangerous and volatile locations at the time.

For a day, we ignored the oppressed.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God! – Matthew 5:9

A Billion Hearts Beating For One! A Billion Hearts Beating As One!

Nearly one fifth of the population of the world spent nearly half a day yesterday watching 22 men chase a trophy – the only one that counts for them, the Cricket World Cup.

Cricket has always been called a gentleman’s game – although in the recent past there has been plenty of ungentlemanly behaviour.

However, last night none of that mattered. Mahendra Singh Dhoni led a pack of young Indians to victory in a well fought battle against the mightly Sri Lankans to raise a trophy that has been much sought after for 28 years.

Individual members of the Indian cricket team dedicated the victory to Sachin Tendulkar – a nearly “immortal” mortal, whose name conjures images of fantastic feats of batting, for whom record books were created. Arguably the longest playing cricketer in the world of first class cricket, he is one of the most admired and respected people in India and an icon of true sportsmanship in the world. As a batsman he has set and broken records that are unlikely to be matched for a very long time. His career in Indian cricket has spanned over two generations of cricketers. Players have come and gone, but he has stood firm. Even in the lowest points of his career, the teams selectors would not dare keep him out of the team. He’s been a source of inspiration for cricketers and sportspeople alike. When he walks out onto the pitch, a nation stands to salute and watch him play. When he gets out, hearts stop beating, drums stop playing and a silence falls on the audience as it did last night. From kings, princes, presidents, prime ministers, politicians, industrialists, actors and authors to waiters, taxi drivers, office workers, students, teachers and senior citizens drop everything to watch him play.

He has been the source of books, articles and essays about topics as wide ranging as his cricketing talent and his gentlemanly conduct to his power as a brand amabassador. His ability to single handedly demolish bowling attacks has been raved about on all continents of the earth. His humility in the face of accolades is legendary. Perhaps one of the most amazing sights is his heavenly gaze on achieving every milestone – a reverential acknowledgement for his abilities. Time and again, he has put personal glory aside and relished the team’s success.

If winning the Cricket World Cup is the happiest day in Indian cricket, then the saddest one will be the day Sachin hangs up his gloves and parks his bat. At 37, he is the oldest member of the Indian cricket team. As a TV analyst mentioned yesterday, when Sachin Tendulkar first played for India, Virat Kohli was merely 1 year old – an entire generation has grown up watching this genius.

Today Indians stand proud around the world. Last night’s success was a true team effort. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has managed to do something that 28 years of captains, coaches and selectors have been trying – build a fighting fit squad that believes in itself as well as individual abilities. The last six weeks of the tournament has seen the resurgence of players like Yuvraj Singh, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra, Harbhajan Singh as well as the trail ground for new talent Virat Kohli, Piyush Chawla and Ravichandran Ashwin!

I urge them all to follow in the footsteps of the great ones that have gone before – putting team and country first before everything else.

In moments lacking clarity, perhaps each can ask himself “What would Sachin do?”

India – let us celebrate this victory dedicated to Sachin Tendulkar and the people of India by remember those that are less fortunate than us. The poor and downtrodden who barely get by with a meal a day. Let’s learn to work with our neighbours on all sides of the subcontinent. Let’s lead the charge for a better world. Let’s root out the corruption that plagues not just our government offices, but our lives. Let’s remember the ideals of our freedom fighters. Let’s honor the memories of fallen soldiers and those that stand on the border protecting the freedom that we enjoy. Let’s have an India…

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

– Sir Rabindranath Tagore

Jai Bharat! Jai Hind!

Piracy Will NEVER Cease To Exist

Those who know me on a professional level know well that I will never shy away from a discussion on software piracy, especially video game piracy.

My friends on MEGAMERS may remember my little monologue some time back when Hitesh posted about the prices of video games versus home video.

So, without much further ado, I have to comment on Abdulla Fadhel’s recent post on MEGAMERS.

I take issue with a few statements in the post:

“There are a lot of arguments for and against piracy but neither side seems to be winning over the other.” – I honestly cannot see any justifiable argument in favour of piracy. It is plain and simply theft and no argument about price or availability justifies stealing.

“Developers and Publishers treat Piracy as this arch enemy that needs to be taken down. But the reality is, whatever they do Piracy will NEVER cease to exist.” – Piracy is the enemy. It is organized crime and should be treated as such. I do agree that piracy will never cease to exist. There will always be someone somewhere who does not want to pay for something.

“Rather than putting up crazy DRM and other restrictions on their products which people actually buy FROM THEM, they need to reward a customer for buying their game and supporting them.” – Rewarding them? I thought the reward for spending the money was playing the game. What more do you want? Thats like saying “I wanna watch the movie and then for buying the movie ticket, the producer should fly me to Hollywood to meet and have lunch with the cast as a reward for not stealing the money that he and his colleagues should be getting for making the movie.” WT?

“No one in their right mind would buy a title that is sold for DOUBLE the actual amount.” – WRONG! There are people willing to buy things at extraordinarily high prices. That’s why shops like that exist and do business. I am dead sure that more iPhones and iPads were sold by the parallel importers at stupidly high prices than the official distributor because when people want something bad they will get it.

“I want to show my support as much as possible to stop awful things like that from ruining the industry.” – Thanks, Abdulla! But while buying an original product is definitely supporting the industry, don’t you think you’re also doing something ethical or is that unimportant?

A new Kinect-ion for video game lovers

Kinect for Xbox 360

When Nintendo launched the Wii in late 2006, it took the gaming world by storm.

While rivals Sony and Microsoft decided to battle it out in the high definition space, targeting core gamers with action, sports and racing games, the historically innovative Nintendo launched a console with a motion sensing technology and some relatively simple games that almost anyone could pick up and play.

The result was that it opened the world of gaming to a whole new demographic.

While gaming has always seen as something the youth engaged in, the Wii brought out the closet gamers among adults and seniors making gaming a more family friendly pastime, with parents, grandparents and siblings joining in on the fun with fairly simple renditions of real world activities such as tennis, bowling and much loved franchises from Nintendo’s own stable, such as Mario and Zelda.

Read more…

Classic Video Games

Grim Fandango

Grim Fandango, LucasArts

During my time in video game distribution, we regularly met some resistance from retailers when it came to stocking and selling classic budget games. A quick scan of video game retailers in Dubai will highlight a scarcity in classic video games.

Retailers tend to stock the latest games in abundance while ignoring the plethora of classic video games from yesteryears – games which were critical and commercial successes.

Retailers do stock titles from the recent past at low price points and use these as promotional footfall drivers.

There is an argument for the availability of physical space and demand for classic games, but one of the responsibilities of a retailer is to provide customers with a choice and range of games. The range should offer something for everybody.

One might ask about the relevance of old(er) games in an environment when customers are interested in the latest products. The leaps in technology every few years does not help the case.

There are generally three types of customers for older games.

Firstly, you have the price conscious customer who doesn’t want to buy a new game at it’s premium price point. These customers will wait a while for the price to drop. These guys are more or less taken care of and usually want games that launched in the last six to nine months.

Secondly, you have those customers who recently got into gaming as a past time and would like to indulge in some of the classic stuff from history.

Thirdly, you have buyers of new consoles who, apart from wanting a new game, would also like a couple of quality games at a cheaper price.

Apart from the above, you also have the gift giving customers who are not necessarily buying the game for their own consumption, but that of others. These customers are usually buying for birthdays and seasonal celebrations like Eid, Christmas and even occasions such as birthdays.

Franchises such as Sam & Max, SimCity, Monkey Island, etc are great products from the golden years of gaming. Online retailers like Amazon continue to stock these, just like they do classic movies and TV shows.

My favourite game of all time has to be LucasArts’ Grim Fandango. What’s yours?

Game Reviews – Emirates 24|7

About a month ago, I started reviewing games for Emirates 24-7, an online news portal based in the UAE.

The first reviews are for Call of Duty Black Ops and Fable III.

Feedback and criticism welcome.

Riyadh Gamers Answering The Call of Duty

Busy day today… here’s a video of the midnight launch for Call of Duty Black Ops at PlayStation World in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Big thanks to Faisal Al Saif from the Up To Date show on KSA 2 TV and my friends Sarwath Sarwari from RED and Adeel Ahmad and his team from Sony KSA.

Call of Duty Black Ops Midnight Launch Video

Here’s Kris Brady‘s video of the Call of Duty Black Ops midnight launch in Dubai.

Call of Duty Black Ops is Here… Nearly!

 

 

 

Here we are on 8th November 2010, the day before the launch of arguably the most anticipated games of the year – Call of Duty Black Ops.

Shops around the world will stay open past midnight in their respective time zones to cater to the demand for this game. Gamers are going to be thronging to their nearest gaming retailers to get this game.

In Dubai, we’re doing this at Emax by setting up a “special operation” to sell the game from midnight tonight.

So, if you’re in the mood, do drop by Oasis Centre around 10pm Dubai time, to register yourself and get in line to grab this game.

For those who want to get priority access, register on MEGAMERS as soon as possible to get your name on the list.

Today is also the start of what i hope will be a long line of columns written by yours truly for Emirates 24|7, one fo Dubai’s best known news portals.

My first published piece is befittingly about Call of Duty and you can find it here.

Feel free to share both bouquets and brickbats.

Call of Duty Black Ops Midnight Launch – Dubai

My friends and colleagues at Red Entertainment and Emax are putting together the midnight launch for Call Of Duty Black Ops.

Scheduled to take place at Oasis Centre Mall on Monday 8th November from 10pm onwards, this should be one of the biggest game launches ever.

If you want to be among the first in Dubai to get your hands on the game, make sure you register at MEGAMERS’ Call of Duty page.

The Hardened and Prestige Editions will be making an appearance in limited quantity, so hurry!

Dubai Once Upon A Time

This series of pictures landed in my email inbox yesterday. Some people may have seen some of this before, but it is a reminiscence of Dubai from the 1960s and 1970s.

Enjoy!

Dubai Police: Controlling Dubai’s Traffic 1960s style

Doesn’t appear to be too much traffic – non existent in fact!
Must have been a major road junction in Old Dubai to have a Traffic Policeman on duty.
Dubai Police: Are you insured?

This photo must be from the late 1960s given the model and age of the car (an Austin A55).
Dubai Police were busy with road accidents long before the Sheikh Zayed Road was built;-)
Dubai Police: Traffic Jam 1960s style?

Two Landrovers, two cars and a motorcycle were enough to give the Traffic Policeman a headache in the 1960s!
Dubai Police: Stopping Landrovers speeding in 1960s

Dubai Police were always keen to use technology to help their cause.
Drivers had to keep a look out for VW Combi Vans parked on the side of the road!
Dubai Clock Tower 1965: Aerial View

This photo is taken after the completion of Al Maktoum Bridge and shows the Clock Tower Roundabout completed. Dubai’s roads were not busy in 1965! The buildings on the left are:-
(front) DubaiTrade School established by Sheikh Rashid to teach National boys trade skills.
(behind) Dubai Industrial Gases and Oxygen Company where industrial gases were manufactured for local use and export.
(back) DubaiMunicipality Fire Brigade Station.
(top right) Tanks are part of Shell Oil Company’s Bitumen Plant where bitumen was manufactured and stored for local use and export. Small bitumen tanker ships berthed alongside the tanks to load their cargoes. Bitumen was in demand in the region for the road construction.
Dubai Clock Tower 1967: As seen from the Carlton Hotel

Taken from the roof of the Carlton Hotel in Diera in 1967. Clock Tower can be seen in the distance (arrow). In the centre of the photo is the old DubaiMunicipalityBuilding. Behind that is the Dubai Electricty Company’s Power Station that supplied Dubai’s electricity. All the buildings in the foreground have been demolished.
Dubai Clock Tower 1971:Aerial View

Behind the Clock Tower is one of the first "high rise" buildings in Dubai. It was known as the PhillipsBuilding because of a large advertisement on the top of the building for Phillips Electrical of Holland. In 1971 the facade on one side of the building collapsed crushing a number of cars but without injury to any people. The building was subsequently demolished.
Dubai Airport: 1960

Airport facilities were minimal. A compacted sand runway, a small terminal building and a service building formed Dubai’s Airport in the 1960s.
Dubai Airport: Immigration and Customs 1960s Style!

Dubai Airport: Check In 1960s Style!

Dubai Airport: 1960

Facilities were minimal with hard packed sand forming the runway and apron.
Dubai Airport: 1965

Dubai Airport opened in 1960. Sheikh Rashid decided to build the Airport after the British Government funded an Airport at nearby Sharjah. He believed an Airport was crucial to Dubai’s future.
Dubai Airport: 1965

Al Ghusais was chosen as the location for the new Airport because it was close the DubaiCity and easy to get to. Jebel Ali was the preferred site but was further from Dubai than Sharjah. Sheikh Rashid thought people would still prefer to use SharjahAirport.
Dubai Airport: 1965

Al Ghusais had been used as a landing strip by Frank Blumford, the Founder of Gulf Aviation. Frank often flew Gold Bullion into Dubai, landing on the sand at Al Ghusais. He advised Sheikh Rashid Al Ghusais was suitable for an Airport. Dubai’s first runway was made from compacted sand. An MEA Heron was the first flight to land on the runway. MEA declared the runway safe after a series of test landings.
Dubai Airport: 1965

When four engined Vickers Viscounts came into service they caused damage to the runway frequently blowing the holes in the runway’s compacted sand. Sheikh Rashid ordered the runaway be rebuilt using concrete.
Dubai Airport: 1965

International Travellers usually flew into Bahrain and then to Dubai by Gulf Aviation. Regional services were provided by Kuwait Air and MEA.
Dubai Airport: HH Sheikh Rashid greets King Hussein of Jordan

Dubai Airport: 1970s

A new TerminalBuilding and a hard surfaced runway had been built by the mid 1970s
Al MaktoumBridge 1960

July 1962. Start of building Al Maktoum Bridge Road Ramp being reclaimed with dredged material from DubaiCreek.AlMaktoumBridge was built by Overseas AST. They were an Austrian Engineering and Construction Company who established in Dubai in 1959. Overseas AST were responsible for constructing many of Dubai’s first projects. Sir William Halcrow and Partners were Consultants for Al Maktoum Bridge.
Al MaktoumBridge 1960s

Building the steel reinforcing framework before concreting a support pillar.
Al MaktoumBridge 1960s: Overseas AST Site Works

Shows Overseas AST’s Site Works on the Deira side of Dubai Creek. This area had been reclaimed with dredged material. Site was later developed into Dubai’s Oilfields Supplies Centre which supplied oil field materials and equipment to the offshore oil industry. Oilfields Supplies Centre later relocated to Jebel Ali Free Zone. This Site is now under development. The completed Al MaktoumBridge can be seen, also Cement Storage Sheds and loading Jetties on Dubai side of the Creek.
Dubai Creek Dredging: 1950s

In the mid 1950s Dubai’s Creek filled with sand becoming very shallow and difficult to navigate. Dubai’s trade was affected. Diera’s coastline was eroding and buildings and roads along the coast were threatened. Dubai’s Merchants and People were complaining.

Sheikh Mohammed’s Wedding (1979)


Some more of Dubai

Ayodhya: A New Beginning?

The recent decision by the Lucknow High Court to divide the land disputed by both Hindus and Muslims was much awaited by the whole of India.

While security services across the country were on high alert with hundreds of thousands of police and paramilitary forces deployed across the country to counter any untoward incidents, the people of India acted with maturity and restraint.

To my knowledge not a single incidence of violence has taken place. In a country of over a billion people who are passionate about their religions, my fellow Indians have made me proud to be an Indian.

People all over the world with disputes have been watching us as we took the court’s decision in our stride.

The Muslim claimant in the case is obviously not satisfied with the verdict and are exercising their right to appeal the decision by taking it to the highest judicial authority in the land with a promise to abide by the Supreme Court’s decision.

Fringe groups and some politicians will try to make political hay of it, but the people of India have spoken with their relative silence and restraint.

Some commentators, including popular Muslim figures, have called upon all parties to accept the verdict and move on. At the same time, there have been suggestions that both sides should show their magnanimity by offering support to the other.

Although I am a Christian, I believe that the Muslims have come away with the relatively raw end of the deal.

The court should have split the land equally between Hindus and Muslims. My understanding is that of the three claimants to the land, two are Hindu groups and hence the judges were right to split it three ways.

My recommendation to all three groups is to come together and build structures of equal magnificence to celebrate their respective faiths and to use a third of the total land to erect a facility that would celebrate India’s secularism – something that would stand as a reminder that freedom was not won by a Hindu or a Muslim, that our freedom is not guarded by a Hindu or a Muslim and that our prosperity is not exclusively because of a Hindu or a Muslim.

Let us do as much for the least of our brothers as we would do for ourselves.

I recommend to the citizens of India to reach out to their elected representatives in the panchayats, legislative assemblies and parliament to encourage these groups to build something that every Indian may be proud of.

For many years, Hindus and Muslims, in a spirit of camaraderie and brotherhood worshipped and practised their respective faiths on that land.

Let’s honor the memories of those brothers and sisters and the memories of those who won us the freedom to worship and the memories of those who guard those freedoms.

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