Archive for October, 2007

Lessons from India part i – Super Cheap Mobile prices

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007


I’ve been ranting about how expensive mobile calls and data rates have been for years…. Going back to India, highlighted just how crazy the price gap is. I was in Mizoram, which has only had mobile phones for about 18 months and they have super cheap rates!

How cheap?? How about a pre-paid phone with local calls from 0.6c per minute !?!? and free night-time calling ! (Ok, this is a promotion with super-low prices but still !)

Having a look at one of the top providers rates (Airtel and Vodafone)

Feature Pre-paid Post-Paid Standard NZ rate
Base Rental nil $6.90 – (200 Rs) $20
Local calls 6c (Rs 2.25) per minute 1.5c (.50 Rs) per minute from 15c per minute
STD calls 6.5c (Rs 2.65) per minute 6.2c (Rs 2.5) from 15c per minute
International call to NZ 20c (6.4 Rs) per minute 20c (6.4 Rs) per minute more than 49c per minute (49c to Australia)
local SMS 1.7c (0.5 Rs) 1.7c (0.5 Rs) from 0.20c
national SMS 6.8c (2 Rs) 6.8c (2 Rs) from 0.20c
international SMS 17c (5 Rs) 17c (5 Rs) from 0.20c

I’ve taken data from Airtel’s website and tried to extract info from vodafone. Broadband pricing is slowly coming into line. Its time to get Mobile prices inline with the rest of the world. The impact of lower mobile prices was a wider effect to the economy. More New Zealanders would benefit to lower mobile prices than wold benefit by broadband. It will help development and innovation in the mobile space, thus creating jobs and growth opportunities for NZ companies. The future of computing is mobile, its time we grew up and get with the rest of the world!

Special thanks for the Open source awards

Tuesday, October 30th, 2007

Open Source Awards for ProjectX and Summer of Code

I just want to say thank you to New Zealand Open Source Awards for the two awards for Summer of Code in the education awards and ZoomIn / ProjectX for open source in business. I heard the news walking off the plane in Calcutta after my ‘amazing race’ adventure. I was pleasantly surprised and proud of all the people that have been involved with ProjectX and Summer of Code.

Here are some belated special thanks to a few people…

Summer of Code

I just want explain a little bit about the Summer of Code before I say thank to some special people who have helped make it happen.

Last year, I was talking to a friend who’s an IT manager at a big company in Wellington about Summer of Code. After explaining what the Summer of Code was about and all the events we had planned etc, he said to me. “What are you nuts?!?! How can you have time for this ??? You’re running a start up , you’ve got enough on your plate? “

I told him that we had to create Summer of Code. Like every company, our company needed to find good people and in the current job market its really hard to find good people. I had a brain wave to fast track the knowledge of the next generation of talent. Provide students with real experience in emerging and startup companies. This is what the Summer of Code is really all about. We’re providing accelerated learning environments for students. We differ from the Google Summer of Code in that the participanting companies directly mentor students and help accelerate their learning. We see this as an investment in the medium term to help create a smarter graduate job market in 2-3 years time by provide our students with a head start!

The Summer of Code has been a team effort, and I could have done anything without the help from a large number of people. I want to give special thanks to two people and their support team.

First, I want to say a big thank you to Peter Torr Smith. We has been the right hand man for Summer of Code and I’m glad that he was able to accept the award on my behalf. Peter has always been there to help do the hard yards in organising the Summer of Code. Recently he stepped up again when I was off in India during a major crunch time of the Summer of Code 2.0 organisation. Thanks Peter, you’ve been an inspiration and you re-inforce one of the reasons why I love Summer of Code in that I get to work with good people!

The second person I would like to thank is Joseph Stuart and his support team from Foundation of Research, Science and Technology (FRST). Without the support of Joseph and FRST, Summer of Code would have been another idea that never saw the light of day. Joseph has been a tireless supporter of the programme since its inception in late 2006. He and his team have managed to haul ass and process our applications in a timely fashion and thus make SoC a reality. A big thank you to all the effort thats going in now for Summer of Code 2.0

I would like to add that I would like to personally thank FRST on behalf of Summer of Code, our participating and all of our students for actively supporting Summer of Code. The Govt gets a lot of flack for a lot of its funding initiatives and I would like to commend FRST for funding. You’ve been integral to the success of Summer of Code and everyone at FRST should take a bow for helping make this happen!

Finally I want to thank to the Summer of Code team that have been making Summer of Code 2.0 a reality – Peter, Paul Gold, Thong Kuah, Daniel Wang and Kat Price. They have been real stars in helping make Summer of Code 2.0 happen.

ZoomIn and ProjectX

(It seems we’re making a habit of accepting awards from Rod, this is the 2nd award from Rod in the last few months. Thanks to Paul for accepting the award)

We’re big users and supporters of the open source in GIS and especially rails. I would like to dedicate this award to the person who has done a lot for helping build an open source technology community here in Wellington. This person formed Wellrailed – the Wellington Rails Community group, he has been active in organising monthly meetings and answering people questions on the newsgroup. He is of course my friend, Tomek Piatek.

Thanks Tomek, you’re an inspiration for us in making sure that technology isn’t just about writing code, its about getting people together to exchange ideas and help each other.

Also I would like to send a big thank you to Koz – another open source award winner. Koz is active contributor to the Wellrailed group and has helped so many people. Koz and the rest of the core contributors in Wellrailed are the reason why we have a strong rails community in Wellington. Thanks everyone!


Monday, October 29th, 2007

I’m back from my adventures in India…

Here’s a rough summary of what might have happened

A) Got engaged to Lulu in a traditional Mizo ceremony

B) Experienced the true reality of using the internet at 9.6K modem speed

C) Experience excellent customer service from local shops

D) Had an amazing race style adventure driving to the airport through jungles of Mizoram overtaking random obstacles (insert any of kittens, dogs, goats, cows, cars, people or pot holes, rivers) only arrive at the airport with 10 minutes to spare and experience a monsoon shower walking out to the plane!

E) All of the above.

I chose E) All of the above :-). I had a great time, youtube videos & flickr photos to come and I’ll be posting soon about my learnings from India.

We also have a client site due for launch very soon. More news on that later…

Oh and of course, Summer of Code 2.0 is coming…

ps. Slowly catching on all the blog news… Congrats to Tim from PlanHQ for a kick presentation at demo conf !

Open GIS

Friday, October 19th, 2007

Following up from yesterday’s post about the Open Source Awards, here’s a new local discussion group about the use of open source software in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). As a web mapping company, we make heavy use of open source software in both the web and the mapping sides of our business: I’ll come back to the web side, but here are some quick notes on the open source GIS packages that we use.

  • PostGIS: I won’t make great claims for its performance, but the spatial extensions to PostgreSQL are pretty impressive and getting more powerful all the time.
  • MapServer: this hasn’t been our first choice for map tile rendering in most cases, but now that version 5.0 is out with its gorgeous anti-aliasing (thanks to the AGG library) it’s looking more and more appealing.
  • QuantumGIS: it’s not exactly ESRI or MapInfo, but it’s quite useful as a basic desktop GIS app, and the ability to export to SVG (for further tweaking and polishing in Inkscape, or for XML hacking) is great for publication work.
  • OGR utilities: indispensable! Good old-fashioned simple command-line tools for exploring, converting and generally mucking around with the obscure world of GIS data formats.


Thursday, October 18th, 2007

This came as a very pleasant surprise: In last night’s NZ Open Source Awards, ProjectX won the “Open Source Use in Business” category, and NZ Summer of Code took out the “Open Source Use in Education” award.

Open Source Awards for ProjectX and Summer of Code

We’ll write some more soon about the advantages we’ve found to using open source, and some specific software that we can’t do without; but for the moment we’re all just rather stunned!

Maps for the celebrity-addicted

Tuesday, October 9th, 2007

We like to think that our technology is being used solely for good rather than evil, but there are some applications where it’s hard to tell. Stalking would be a no-no, but celebrity stalking doesn’t seem so bad. That’s the purpose of the Wellingtonista Celeb Vista group on ZoomIn, which is fully explained in this post on the Wellingtonista.

Simply put, it’s a group for tracking celebrity sightings, but Wellington being Wellington, the celebs being stalked are somewhat more highbrow than on other celebrity-stalking mashups, hence the inclusion of Peter McLeavey along with Bret McKenzie and Shortland Streeters. At least there are no politicians … yet.