Rumor: Flipkart Opening Digital Music Store ‘Flyte’ Soon

The quick eyes of Setu at Woikr.com (no doubt helped by being there just in time) has revealed a new face of Flipkart. It seems that the Indian e-retail store is opening a digital distribution service for music, called “Flyte”. While the exact facts of the music store are yet to be revealed, the household online retail name wants to take up as much of the untapped market share of ecommerce as is possible in India. Considering that the brand is trusted, it would be nice to see digital music sales pick up in India which has long been known to be a pirate island.

Flyte

Flipkart had acquired Mime360, a Mumbai based company that specialized in hosting streaming music for Indian labels such as Saregama, Universal Music and others. This, coupled with the fact that Flipkart had acquired rights to Chakpak.com’s huge digital catalog, obviously points out to the launch of this music (and hopefully movies) digital distribution platform.

The biggest clincher of the entire episode would be the pricing scheme decided upon by Flipkart. To satisfy the Indian wallet, they must price it evenly at about Rs. 15 to Rs. 20 per song, offering discounts and the like to newly released albums and movies. From what had transpired on the Twitter account, it seems that the songs will definitely be 320kbps DRM free (!), and that an eBook store with ePub files will be implemented in the “near future”. (You must know that by now I have a “:D” face)

 

Of course, the success of this entire venture depends on the end user. I am sure Flipkart has thought this decision through, but everything depends upon the non-pirating customer who believes that music actually carries a price and that the royalty money helps the musicians make more music. I really hope this works out for Flipkart and that a video game digital distribution with Indian prices starts up there!

[Image from Woikr.com]

Duqu Trojan Command and Control Server Found in Mumbai, India

News of Duqu- a large-scale trojan attack surfaced over the Internet, last week. The impact of Duqu measures up to the likes of Stuxnet, as it attacks mission critical systems. Duqu was discovered by Symantec, which claimed that it had code similar to the Stuxnet trojan. This malware has raised concern in the world of security as it has been devised to raise mayhem in industrial fields, just like Stuxnet. The primary targets of Duqu are oil refineries, power plants and pipeline systems.
duqu-symantec-logo
Duqu seems to have a very similar scare-factor as Stuxnet because it attacks critical industries. Although, it is not related to Stuxnet in any way, the complicated nature of Duqu makes it look like a well-funded attack, probably by a government. The first piece of evidence in Duqu was found at Web Werks, which is a web-hosting company based in Mumbai. The Department of Information Technology in India received a tip from Symantec, and the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team  visited Web Werks offices. They seized two hard-drives with information of the trojan. Apparently, the hosting at Web Werks was used to run their command-and-control center. However, the complicated nature of the trojan makes it hard for a quick analysis.

The Duqu trojan as  explained by Symantec  is,

W32.Duqu is a worm that opens a back door and downloads more files on to the compromised computer. It also has rootkit functionality and may steal information from the compromised computer.  Initial analysis of this threat has shown that it is related closely to the W32.Stuxnet worm from 2010.

Although the affected system list does not include Windows 7, it includes all possible Windows versions before Windows 7 all the way to Windows 95.  However, you may be surprised to see that the Symnatec page on Duqu lists it as a low severity.

Web Werks has failed to track down the dubious customer who owned the h0sting account and the Indian Department of Information Technology is yet to unearth the mysteries contained in the seized drives. A second command-and-control center has been located in Belgium, recently.

In the meanwhile, CrySys laboratories in Hungary got hold of an installer for Duqu and claims that it exploits an unknown vulnerability in the Windows kernel. The attack spreads through a .doc (word document) file and is being distributed though social engineering. The safest way to protect against the worm is to follow email best practices and to steer clear of anything that looks fishy, especially dubious word documents.

Le Chal – A Haptic Shoe for the Visually Impaired

How nice would it be if the blind could walk around the streets without the white stick in their hand? That’s what Anirudh Sharma has been working since January 2011. Anirudh, who holds a Bachelor of Information Technology Engineering degree from Rajasthan Technical University, has developed a system called “Le Chal”, which is a Hindi translation for “Take Me There.” It helps the visually impaired to walk without having to carry their white stick in hand. Not just that, the system also alerts them about any potholes they come across while walking.

Le Chal Shoe

Sharma made his debut of the haptic (of or relating to the sense of touch) shoe design during an MIT Media Lab Workshop hosted at COEP, and was featured in MIT Review in August 2011. During the workshop, he created the first prototype of the haptic shoe and showcased it to the delegates. The shoe was instantly named “Le Chal”.

So what does Le Chal basically do?

Le Chal is a non-obtrusive navigation aid for the visually impaired, which is designed to send vibration signals about the direction one need to walk in so to reach the desired destination. The entire system is fitted to a regular shoe which is coded to parse Google Maps/GPS data. It is basically intended to assist the blind in finding their way to a specified geographical location, and also helps them avoid walking into ditches and potholes on their way.

Le Chal Design

The system contains an Arduino LilyPad which is the main circuit board and is placed at the back mid-sole region of the shoe. Along the sides of the shoe, there are four mini vibration motors placed (front, back, left and right), which are intended to inform the user about the directions. For instance, a vibration on the left side indicates that the user should turn left. The vibrations start out low, but build in intensity as the user nears points where he or she has to take a turn.

It also contains a Bluetooth Arduino LilyPad to sync devices and a smartphone with GPS enabled to pull the location data from the satellite.

How it works?

IT all starts with the user entering their destination on Google Maps, using their Le Chal Android app. The phone then converts the speech into text and communicates by Bluetooth with the LilyPad Arduino circuit board. Now following the directions given by Google Mas along with the location data from GPS, the phone gets the circuit to activate the vibrator depending on the direction.

A proximity sensor in the front of the shoe also alerts the user to obstacles, which it can detect from up to ten feet (three meters) away.

The shoes have had their trials in a Bangalore blind school. We intend doing about 20 shoes (priced at Rs 1,000 or $20 USD a piece) and distribute them to the visually challenged. After the feedback, we will make all the improvements suggested by the user group before going for future plans,” said Anirudh.

Vaishnavi Kasturi, a visually challenged girl who cleared CAT, said: “It’s a great option. Sometimes a white cane cannot sense big objects. They just don’t matter on a pothole-marked terrain like in Bangalore. The shoes could be very convenient. The proximity sensor is brilliant. It can help you spot small objects. For instance, in case of a pothole, there is one at virtually every step in Bangalore, the shoes could give out some warning by way of vibrations.”

Croma Partners with Intel to Launch Laptop Theft Protection Service in India

Croma, the mega-store chain from Tata Sons, has partnered with Intel to introduce anti-theft service for laptop users in India. Using Intel Anti-Theft Technology built into Sandy Bridge (2nd Generation Intel Core) processors, laptops can automatically disable themselves if they are lost or stolen.

Mobile PC usage in India is on the rise and we expect to further accelerate it with the new Ultrabook devices. Protecting users’ sensitive information as well as laptops themselves is paramount,said R. Sivakumar, Managing Director, Sales & Marketing Group, Intel South Asia. We are thrilled to see Croma offering Intel Anti-Theft Service for Indian laptop users.

A stolen laptop can be locked down by sending a signal over the internet, or by using intelligent hardware timers. Locking down a laptop essentially makes it unbootable and unusable. Intel also provides a secure vault in the hard disk that is cryptographically protected. If a laptop is locked, then the data in the secure vault can’t be read even by connecting the hard disk to a different computer. Even reformatting the hard drive, installing a new hard drive, or changing the boot order won’t help in circumventing the lock. However, Intel and Croma didn’t make it clear if laptop tracking with the help of GPS module will be available or not.

Intel-Anti-Theft

We are proud to be the first retailer to introduce Anti-Theft service for all the laptop users at Croma. With the launch of this Anti-Theft service, our consumers will now enjoy peace of mind while securing their laptops and their digital lives.said Mr. Ajit Joshi, CEO & Managing Director, Infiniti Retail Ltd. Croma is delighted to partner with Intel for this exceptional service that will provide our customers an opportunity to safeguard their laptops. This initiative evidently affirms the Company’s resolution of bringing world-class shopping experience to its customers.

The theft protection service will be bundled with select laptops sold from Croma. For other laptops sold through Croma, it will be as an optional feature starting at Rs. 199 for a period of 2 years.

Play “Angry Anna” to Fight Against Corruption

Inspired by the insanely popular and one of the most addictive  games of all time, Angry Birds, a bunch of geeks from a Noida-based company called Geek Mentors Studio, have designed a game called Angry Anna, which encourages online users to Play to support Anna Hazarein his battle against corruption in India.

Just after the launch of the game earlier this week, it was already hit by massive fan followers, bringing over 50,000 hits to the home page and thousands of Twitter and Facebook posts. The game has been played more than 270,000 times since its launch.

Angry Anna Game

Anna’s rallies and protests are going on nationwide, but many who support the cause can’t go out on the streets to participate. So the idea was that people play the game as a support to the noble movement of Mr. Hazare,said Mohammed Shah Nawaz, one of the game’s developers.

Mohammed Faisal, a 3D animation expert and co-founder of the game stated that they were concerned about reactions from the politicians; however he said that, no one has complained anything against the game or the company yet.

Anna Hazare is fighting against corruption to wipe out all the corrupt politicians including the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, preventing them from stealing the Indian money, and get back the black money hidden in Swiss bank accounts.

In the game, the politicians are surrounded by money bags, and Anna’s target it to destroy the politicians. Once they are all destroyed, the bags returns to Team Anna’s side and the player can move on to the next level. The game has four levels, and has replaced the Angry Birds with animated pictures of Anna Hazare, Ramdev and several others who are a part of Anna’s team.

This Angry Anna game is a browser based game, and can be played online here: http://www.angryanna.com/

Click the play button to play the game.

The sound effects are quite funny, and you can find it similar to the Angry Birds’ sound effects. Although the game experience isn’t as good as Angry Birds, the idea is quite innovative and a perfect way to support Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement.

How I wish Anna Hazare could wash away these filthy politicians with just a mouse click!

Support Anna Hazare to Fight Against Corruption with Android and Nokia app

Samsung N100, First MeeGo Netbook Launched in India at Rs 12,290

Samsung N100Today, Samsung announced the launch of the first MeeGo netbook in India – the Samsung N100, via a press release.

The Samsung N100’s design is based on the very popular Samsung N150P, a Windows 7 netbook launched last year which sold more than 3 million units.

The Samsung N100 weighs just 1.03 kg, and comes with a 10.1 inch matte LED display with a resolution of 1024 x 600 pixels. It is powered by Intel’s MeeGo OS, but also comes with options for free DOS and Windows 7.

It is powered by the Intel Atom N435 processor which is clocked at 1.33 GHz. It comes with 1 GB DDR3 RAM and a 250 GB hard disk. The graphics are handled by the Intel GMA 3150 chipset.

It is priced at Rs 12,290. While I highly doubt the prospects of MeeGo in the Indian market, the N100 offers a solid piece of hardware at a low price. It’s definitely worth considering if you are in the market for a cheap netbook.

Online Tax Returns Filing Goes Up By 80% In India

Looks like the citizens of India are gradually jumping on to the web – wagon! According to recent reports, online filing of tax returns or e-tax has increased by great numbers. This was revealed by SNK ETax solutions, a company which specialises in corporate and individual taxation.

The figures are some thing like this:

In the year 2009-10, the total number of tax returns filed were 3.4 crores approximately. Out of this, the number of returns that were filed online were 51.06 lakh. Whereas in 2010-11, the total number of tax returns filed was 4.4 crore and out of this the number of tax returns filed online was 91.57 lakhs. If we compare just the online returns, there has been almost 80% growth.

The number of online tax returns filed is expected to touch 7.5 crores within next five years which is going to be a tremendous growth indeed. The website of the Income Tax department of India has a lot of information how to file your tax online, and detailed information about various tax laws.

There is also a Tax Calculator application on the website using which you can find out your tax liabilities according to your net taxable income. People generally hire a tax consultant in order to manage their taxes and filing. However, if you file the taxes online using the calculator we mentioned above, you can save yourself some extra money in form of the fees which the tax consultant would charge.

Google Street View Temporarily Discontinued In India

Just around the end of last month, Google had announced the start of it’s Street View project in India. Street Viewis one of the many projects from Google that lets you check out places around the world with the help of 360-degree street-level images from Google Maps. However, Street View has already come under the scanner of various governments across the world.

The Street View project has now fallen prey to the eyes of the Indian Government as well. When Google started this in Bangalore, India last month, we were quite skeptical about it’s operation in the country. Now it turns out that Google did not even secure the necessary clearance required for filming the streets in Bangalore.

Google has already procured a fleet of Chevrolet Captiva SUVs and tri-cycles with special rotating cameras atop in order to film and take photographs of the streets. The Bangalore police is concerned because there are many military institutions in the city and making available such data online would pose security threats to these areas.

Google has already confirmed that the “Street View” project has been suspended as they have received a letter from Bangalore’s police commissioner ask to do so. Not only India, Google has faced serious obstacles in implementing this project in other countries such as Germany, Switzerland and Brazil.

Facebook Credits To Go Live In India From 1st July

Facebook has announced the launch of it’s Facebook Credits feature in 13 Asian and Latin American countries via international payment methods and improved payout workflows for developers using Facebook Credits. For the ones who have not heard about Facebook Credits before, it is a safe way to pay for Virtual Goods in Facebook Applications without having to reveal your bank or card details to a third-party app or game provider.

According to a blog post from Facebook:

We’re also excited to announce that we now support payouts to developers in all countries globally (excluding a few government-embargoed countries). To do this, we’ve developed a new pay out process for developers in countries where we haven’t previously supported payouts through banks or PayPal. For developers in these countries, we may request some additional documentation to enable them to be paid through their local bank account.

Although there is a no special mention about India in the official blog post but we can see India listed in the payment options page for Facebook Credits. The payment methods available for Indian developers include Mobile payments (using Boku or Zong), MOLePoints, Moneybookers, Western Union QuickPay. As expected, there is no PayPal in the list. And in the case of Mobile Payments, only Airtel supports Boku in India, so Zong is ruled out.

LinkedIn Hits 10M Registered Users In India; Doubles User Base In Just 1 Year

LinkedIn – the social network for professionals is seeing a fast growth in India. The company recently did it’s IPO and what could be a more better news than hitting the landmark of 10 Million registered users in India. There are already many online job portals in India such as Naukri.com, Monster.com and others but none provide a social angle to Job hunting, the way LinkedIn does.

Although, there is a desi social network for professional called brijj.com which has 4 Million registered users (claimed) but the experience and user engagement is of no match to LinkedIn. LinkedIn had 5 Million registered users in the month of May last year (2010) and this years 10 Million figure seals LinkedIn’s 100% growth in the country.

In order to increase it’s reach among users and brands, LinkedIn has been taking many initiatives such as the launch of Company pages for all Indian companies. However, LinkedIn needs to do more in order to beat it’s competitors (naukri.com and monster.com) hands down. Naukri.com has a very vast reach in India among users when it comes to searching for jobs as users know these websites as job search engines. LinkedIn has to come up with an awareness campaign for users in India so that they start understanding the power of LinkedIn as well.