Vijender loses in semis, wins bronze

August 22, 2008

Indian boxer Vijender Kumar settled for a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics after being out-punched by Cuban Emilio Correa Bayeaux in the semifinals of the 75kg category on Friday.

The 22-year-old was simply out-thought by his Cuban rival who negated the height and reach advantage of Vijender by fighting from a long range to score an 8-5 win.

But even in defeat, Vijender has made history, becoming the only Indian boxer to clinch an Olympic medal.

Vijender, a Doha Asiad bronze medallist, struggled to connect his punches and was trailing from the very start.

In fact he failed to score a single point in the opening round, which ended 2-0 in the Cuban’s favour.

Forced to play the catch-up game, Vijender managed a slight recovery in the second round as he reduced the deficit to just one point ending the second round 3-4 behind.

Bayeaux stuck to his strategy of back-paddling after landing punches, most of which were straight and more importantly precise.

The Cuban’s lightening fast reflexes thwarted Vijender’s attacks and the Indian once again failed to score in the third round.

The decider saw a desperate Vijender on the offensive but the Cuban survived the brief assault, although earning a two-point penalty for committing a foul, leaving the scoreline 8-5.

Why US could lose tech edge to India

August 22, 2008

The United States may be synonymous with the high-tech revolution, but it is fast losing its edge in science and technology, fear US corporate bosses, sociologists, educators and some politicians.

Cybercities 2008, a report released by AeA, a technology industry trade association, recently warns that since the US government does not issue enough visas to talented foreigners, a huge number of hi-tech jobs remain unfilled.

The report said that the number of high-tech jobs in areas like semiconductors, software, computer design, Internet, etc are at below 2001 levels.

American experts have been citing 20 steps that the United States should take to maintain its global lead. Check out what these are. . .

What worsens the problem for the US is that American colleges do not seem to be churning out enough graduates capable of filling these vacancies, and thus a large numbers of these prime jobs are lost to other countries.

As a proactive measure to keep America from losing out to emerging powers like India and China in the technology field, a US panel some time ago sounded a warning and suggested ways to maintain its dominant position in science and technology.

India and China are fast emerging as the real hi-tech centres that can challenge the US hegemony in the field of technology.

The reasons cited for the growth of India as a tech power are that it has sacrifice and talent, there’s a strong value of creativity, and there is direct/indirect help in financing technological activity and companies. Capital is available for technology, and there is awareness of the change in the global IT food chain.

Experts say that these are some indicators that illustrate why US needs to take decisive action now:

  • For the cost of one chemist or one engineer in the United States, a company can hire about five chemists in China or 11 engineers in India.
  • Last year chemical companies shuttered 70 facilities in the United States and have tagged 40 more for closure. Of 120 chemical plants being built around the world with price tags of $1 billion or more, one is in the United States and 50 are in China.
  • US 12th-graders recently performed below the international average for 21 countries on a test of general knowledge in mathematics and science. In addition, an advanced mathematics assessment was administered to students in 15 other countries who were taking or had taken advanced math courses, and to US students who were taking or had taken pre-calculus, calculus, or Advanced Placement calculus. Eleven countries outperformed the United States, and four scored similarly. None scored significantly below the US.
  • In 1999, only 41 per cent of US eighth-graders had a math teacher who had majored in mathematics at the undergraduate or graduate level or studied the subject for teacher certification — a figure that was considerably lower than the international average of 71 per cent.
  • Last year more than 600,000 engineers graduated from institutions of higher education in China. In India, the figure was 350,000. In America, it was about 70,000.
  • In 2001 US industry spent more on tort litigation than on research and development.

10,000 teachers, 10 million minds

  • Increase America’s talent pool by vastly improving K-12 mathematics and science education.
  • Among the recommended implementation steps is the creation of a merit-based scholarship program to attract 10,000 exceptional students to math and science teaching careers each year. Four-year scholarships, worth up to $20,000 annually, should be designed to help some of the nation’s top students obtain bachelor’s degrees in physical or life sciences, engineering, or mathematics — with concurrent certification as K-12 math and science teachers.

  • Nokia intercepts iPhone with high-end handset

    August 20, 2008

    Nokia, the country’s dominant handset player, is plotting to steal Apple’s thunder. The company is set to launch its latest high-end phone-the N96-which calls a ‘killer product’ on Tuesday in India, three days before the much-awaited 3G-enabled iPhone’s debut here. The N96 was tipped to be launched globally in October and this may perhaps be the handset maker’s first global launch in India.

    Industry experts say Nokia is rushing the N96 to India to counter the hype associated with the 3G iPhone, which will be offered by Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Essar. While Nokia is expected to launch the product in Delhi on Tuesday, the handset is likely to be available in the market from the first week of September.

    Nokia’s N96 is expected to be priced around Rs 35,000. In comparison, the iPhone is likely to cost about Rs 31,000 for the 8 GB version and between Rs 35,000-37,000 for the 16 GB one. Till date, Bharti, Vodafone and Apple have remained tight-lipped on iPhone’s pricing strategy in India. But if the iPhone is bundled with a carrier’s service, the price could be half this amount.

    Olympic bronze medal for India

    August 20, 2008

    Wrestler Sushil Kumar wins Olympic bronze medal for India

    Grappler Sushil Kumar provided an unexpected boost to India’s Olympic campaign by clinching bronze medal after beating Kazakhstan’s Leonid Spiridonov in the repechage match of the men’s freestyle wrestling 66kg class in Beijing on Wednesday.

    Sushil also thwarted the challenge from American Doug Schwab and Belarrussian Albert Batyrov in the first two repechage rounds after losing his opening round bout earlier in the day.

    Sushil is only the second Indian wrestler to win the wrestling bronze after Kashabha Jadhav had returned with the medal in 1952 Helsinki Games.

    This will be after 56 years that an Indian contingent will return with more than one Olympic medal as shooter Abhinav Bindra has won first-ever Games gold medal for the country earlier at the Beijing Games.

    Sushil had lost to far superior Ukrainian Andriy Stadnik in his first round bout.

    Source: NDTV

    Get an iPhone for Rs 31,000

    August 20, 2008

    Indian consumers, who have waited for months to own the iconic 3G-enabled Apple iPhone, will have to pay Rs 31,000 for the entry-level 8GB memory mobile phone and Rs 36,100 for a model with double the memory.

    Both Vodafone and Airtel will be launching the iPhone on August 22 and industry experts say bookings and pre-launch interest suggest that they would be able to sell over 100,000 phones in the next 12 months.

    Companies like Vodafone, which opened bookings for the phones in July, have already received booking requests of over 10,000 phones.

    The domestic price, however, is much steeper than the US price. The handset is available for $199 (Rs 8,358) in the US, plus $99 (Rs 4,158) as an annual contract with the telecom company since the handsets are linked to the service provider

    These lower prices are possible because of the large subsidies that service providers are willing to provide to woo customers.

    In India however, neither company will offer a subsidy.

    However, the non-3G Apple iPhone — which was launched by the company earlier — is available in the Indian grey market at around Rs 20,000, down from Rs 24,000 a few months ago.

    Grey market operators are now also cracking the codes for the 3G Apple iPhone and said it would be priced Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 cheaper than the Vodafone or Airtel price points. Second-hand 2G iPhones are available for about Rs 15,000

    The 3G iPhone will have faster downloads, an in-built GPS system and direct connections to YouTube, among other features.

    Meanwhile, leading handset makers like Nokia, Motorola and Samsung have stepped up their R&D efforts to introduce feature-rich phones in India to compete with iPhones.

    No 3G For iPhone In India!

    August 19, 2008

    Bharti Airtel and Vodafone, both are bringing the iPhone 3G to India and have started bookings for the phone as well. But what no one is talking about right now is that there is actually no 3G network in India yet. If we look at the promises the telecom department has been making for the past few years, there is no deadline for 3G roll-out in India. There was a dialogue in Matrix movie where Neo, when arrested by agents, asks for a phone call. Agent Smith says, “How good is a phone call, when you can’t speak?” as he had sealed his lips. So, here one can say, “How good is the iPhone 3G when there is no 3G network in the country?” Should consumers fall for that and buy iPhone 3G, which will not be able to offer 3G services despite being a 3G device?

    A Non 3G, iPhone 3G

    Nathan Burley, an Australia-based analyst with the international research firm, Ovum, explains, “There is no other iPhone model to sell so that is the only model available. Apple is pushing the 3G model very aggressively. I think there are a lot of un-locked or cracked iPhone available in India. But through this, Apple will get the Indian market. Well, the iPhone 3G will run on 2G network as well, so you will be able to do a lot of things like the Internet access and other stuff, but the experience will not be that good as compared to running these on a 3G network. Still since iPhone is more about a style statement and the rich interface so at least people will be able to use it and flaunt it.”

    When Will It Be 3G?
    It is going to take quite a while for Indians to reap the benefits of 3G that the device offers? Looking back in history, there have been more promises made than met. The frequency that 3G networks use was assigned to defence forces in India, and it took quite a time to release that frequency as defence forces needed to build the infrastructure to migrate from that frequency. That was followed by the expulsion of the much adored minister Dayanidhi Maran due to some political issues. The change of minister further delayed the arrival of 3G in India.

    A. Raja took over as the minister of communications and information technology in May last year and after taking his time to settle down has started the 3G drive. The government is trying to put things in place by announcing 3G guidelines and policies. There will soon be an auction of the 3G spectrum in India by the end of September.

    Just few days ago, Indian government approved the release of one block of the 3G Spectrum each to BSNL and MTNL, the two public sector telephone service providers. The Spectrum blocks released for the two companies have the size of 2×5 MHz in 2.1 GHz Band. “Besides this special consideration for BSNL and MTNL, 3G/BWA Spectrum would be allocated through an auction
    process to be conducted by a specialised agency. For the Spectrum blocks released to them, BSNL and MTNL will pay a price equal to the highest bid in the respective service areas,” a press statement says.

    Source: EFY Times

    Fair Labor Standards Act: Six Things Tech Workers Need to Know

    August 19, 2008

    The class-action lawsuit that current and former Apple employees have filed against the iPhone-maker raises questions about what kinds of workers are covered by the FLSA. Here’s what you need to know about this often confusing law and your rights to overtime pay.

    1. The FLSA is a weak law

    2. Employers have little incentive to classify salaried employees properly.
    Since employers know the law isn’t highly enforced, they may be tempted to err on the side of classifying white collar workers as exempt so that they don’t have to follow the FLSA’s requirements, says Sagafi.

    “The advantage to a company of classifying somebody as exempt is that the company can make the employee work as much as it wants, and the employee’s only remedy is to ask for more money, quit or sue for back wages,” says the attorney.

    3. There are five different kinds of exemptions.
    The five different kinds of exemption from the FLSA are the administrative exemption, the computer professionals exemption, the executive exemption, the professional exemption and the highly compensated exemption.

    The professionals who fall into any one of those five exemptions are not covered by the FLSA. (To be exempt from the FLSA means that you’re not covered by that law. To be nonexempt means that you are covered by the law and therefore are eligible for overtime pay and for other protections.)

    The administrative exemption is the most complicated, says Sagafi. “It hinges on whether the employee ‘exercises independent judgment and discretion with respect to matters of significance’ for the company,” he says, quoting the law. In other words, if a professional exercises his or her own judgment, creativity, vision, leadership and autonomy in performing his or her job duties in a core area of the business, he or she is likely to be exempt under the administrative exemption.

    “If you don’t exercise independent judgment, if you perform rote, repetitive tasks in accordance with guidelines, protocols, checklists or established procedures, you’re not likely to be exempt under the administrative exemption because you’re not exercising discretion. You’re just following the rules,” adds Sagafi.

    The computer professionals exemption mainly applies to computer systems analysts, computer programmers, software engineers and software developers whose primary duties consist of some combination of design, development, documentation, analysis, creation, testing or modification of computer systems and programs, and who earn at least $455 per week on a salaried basis. It does not pertain to help desk workers or to employees involved in the manufacture or repair of computer hardware.

    The executive exemption pertains to employees involved in managing the entire company or a department or division of the company, who manage at least two people, have the authority to hire, fire and promote employees, and who earn at least $455 per week on a salaried basis.

    The professional exemption applies to “learned” professionals (e.g. doctors and lawyers) and to creative professionals (e.g. graphic designers, copy writers.) Finally, if you earn $100,00 a year or more, you’re exempt from the FLSA under the highly compensated exemption.

    Sagafi says that Apple will have to prove that network engineers fall into either the administrative exemption or the computer professionals exemption in order to counter the plaintiffs’ claim that they should have received overtime.

    4. Your title is irrelevant legally.
    Sagafi notes that the job title of “network engineer,” which is at issue in the Apple case, is irrelevant when it comes to determining whether or not an employee is exempt from the FLSA, since job titles can be overblown.

    “Companies like to give fancy titles to employees because it’s a costless way for them to make their employees feel valued, and it has a corollary benefit of making employees sound like they fit an exemption if the employer has an eye to getting sued,” says Sagafi.

    5. What matters is how you perform your work.
    Sagafi acknowledges that IT professionals are highly skilled and possess specialized knowledge, but he says, that has little bearing on whether or not they fall into an exemption.

    “What matters is whether they have autonomy and discretion,” he says. “We’ve found in these cases that there are established protocols and pathways and instructions and guidelines and ways of doing things that they have to follow time and time again.”

    Sagafi points to the work IT professionals have to do to update virus protection software or to diagnose problems with routers as examples of rote, repeatable tasks that don’t involve a lot of personal judgment. “You get an alert from a third party software vendor, and you know what the steps are [to install those updates] because you did it last week. There’s a right way to do it and not a lot of choice in the matter,” he says. “Or, if there’s an error showing up on the monitoring software with respect to a router, you know you have to check 11 different aspects of the router and when you find the thing that is wrong with the router, you fix it, and there’s only one fix and there’s not much choice in the matter.”

    6. If you’re going to sue, file a class action suit.
    It’s hard for individuals and small groups to win these kinds of overtime cases, Sagafi says, because the FLSA is so complicated and because it consequently takes so much time and money for the attorneys to prove the employer’s liability. A class action suit, he says, gives the plaintiffs the strength in numbers and the lawyers the economies of scale that they need to prove their case.