Wednesday, March 28, 2007

How to beat Google

Interesting post and comments at on how to beat Google. Here are some snippets:

Our entire industry is scared witless by Google's dominance in search and advertising. Microsoft and Yahoo have been unsuccessful at staunching the bleeding of their search market share. VCs parrot the Google PR FUD machine that you need giant datacenters next to hydroelectric dams to compete. They spout nonsense about how startups should just use Alexa's crawl and put some ajax on top of it. Ye gods.

Grow a spine people! You have a giant growing market with just one dominant competitor, not even any real #2. You're going to do clean-tech energy saving software to shut off lightbulbs in high-rises instead? Pfft. Get a stick and try to knock G's crown off.


A conventional attack against Google's search product will fail. They are unassailable in their core domain. If you merely duplicate Google's search engine, you will have nothing. A copy of their product with your brand has no pull against the original product with their brand.

Duplicating Google's engine is uninteresting anyway. The design and approach were begun a decade ago. You can do better now.

Forget interface innovation. The editorial value of search is in the index, not the interface. That's why google's minimalist interface is so appealing. Interface features only get in the way.

Forget about asking users to do anything besides typing two words into a box.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Screen Projected Translations of Kirtan

Our Gurdwara, or place of worship, recently started a wonderful pilot project where translations of the ceremony are projected onto a screen in roman script, English, and Punjabi. As someone who was born and raised in the states, I can attest to the struggle a western native born goes through to try to understand our services.

Our Giani's, or priests, rarely if ever offer any translation into English, the primary and often only language of the young generation of Sikhs. In addition, most of our prayers and shabads, or hymns, are in Gurmukhi, which is a much older form of Punjabi. After years of struggling to become more fluent in Punjabi, I was frustrated to realize I still had far to go in understanding our holy texts in Gurmukhi. In my estimation, differences between Gurmukhi and Punjabi are something akin to the differences between the early modern English of Shakespear's era, perhaps even the Old English of Beowolf, and modern day English.

In any event, the projection idea is a fantastic new development. The way it works is a volunteer runs a laptop which projects onto a screen during the services. The volunteer listens to the service, and figures out which shabad or prayer is being recited. This person then pulls up a corresponding power point containing the translations and clicks through the slides as appropriate. If a prayer or shabad is not available in a prepared power point, the person goes to and performs a search to get to the appropriate text. The system works amazingly well without being disruptive to the hymns and ragas; the serenity of the prayers in their native Gurmukhi is preserved, the Giani's can remain spontaneous in their service, and the Sangat can gain more insight into the texts. The one drawback is that the volunteer needs to be trained and spend some effort, but my guess is this will become easier over time as the kinks in the system are worked out. We're currently raising funds to purchase the full projection system, and it looks likely to happen.

My guess is other immigrant communities of different faiths have similar problems where the ceremonies are performed in a mother language often foreign to the western native generation. I really hope this idea catches on as it would be unfortunate if another generation feels alienated from its faith due to a basic communication disconnect.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Spoofs: Dil Luteya and Bulla Ki Jana

Here's a hilarious spoof on Dil Luteya and Rabbi's Bulla Ki Jana. If you don't speak Punjabi, my appologies; unfortunately there is no translation and this sort of thing doesn't translate well anyway.

Rabbi Shergill's Bulla Ki Jana Video

For those of you have never heard Rabbi, a lovely Sikh singer from Punjab, I highly recommend his debut album Rabbi. I had never seen a video of his; I really like this video for Bulla Ji Jana. Some nice street and life scenes from all over India.

Rabbi's lyrics remind me of the Sufi poet Rumi for their blend of mysticism and love. Here's the roman characters and english translation for Tere Bin courtesy of Wikipedia:

tere bin / besides you
sanu sohnia / my love
koi hor nahio labhna / i shan't find another
jo dave / who'll give
ruh nu sakun / peace to my soul
chukke jo nakhra mera / and indulge me
ve main sare ghumm ke vekhia / i have gone and seen it all
amrika , roos, malaysia / america, russia, malaysiana
kittey vi koi fark si / there wasn't any difference
har kise di koi shart si / they all had some condition
koi mangda mera si sama / some asked for my time
koi hunda surat te fida / some were fascinated with my face
koi mangda meri si vafa / some demanded my fidelity
na koi mangda merian bala / none wanted my demons
tere bin / besides you
hor na kise / no one else
mangni merian bala / wanted my demons
tere bin / besides you
hor na kise / no one else
karni dhup vich chhan / shall shade me in the sun
jiven rukia / (the) way you paused
si tun zara / slightly
nahion bhulna / i shan't forget
main sari umar / all my life
jiven akhia si akhan chura / you said, looking away
"rovenga sanu yad kar" / "you shall weep in my memory"
hasia si main hasa ajeeb / i laughed a strange laugh
(par) tu nahi si hasia / but you didn't
dil vich tera jo raaz si / you had a secret in your heart
mainu tu kyon ni dasia / why didn't you tell me
tere bin / besides you
sanu eh raz / none shall tell this
kise hor nahion dasna / secret to me
tere bin / besides you
peerh da ilaaj / what druid
kis vaid kolon labhna / has the cure to my ills
milia si ajj mainu / i found today
tera ik patra / a note of yours
likhia si jis 'te / on which you had scribbeled
tun shayr varey shah da / a varis shah couplet
park ke si osnu / upon reading which
hanjnu ik duliya / a teardrop fell
akhan 'ch band si / what was locked in the eye
seh raaz ajj khulia / was revealed today
ki tere bin / that other than you
eh mere hanjnu / these tears of mine
kise hor / won't be kissed by
nahio chumna / none else
ki tere bin / that other than you
eh mere hanjhu / these tears of mine
mitti vich rulnha / will wither in the dust

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Children's Video on Guru Nanak Dev Ji

I ran across this lovely claymation video on the life of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, the founder and first prophet of the Sikh faith. It is in English, and well suited for children. Click on the links below to view the video:

Life of Guru Nanak Dev Ji - Part 1
Life of Guru Nanak Dev Ji - Part 2
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