18 September 2007

Knowledge is free online

WHERE on earth can we find 1.74 billion words in 7.5 million articles in approximately 250 languages completely free? Is there a non-profit one stop shop with about 2,010,642 articles as on date and growing with 1700 new English articles per day? Yes, this week we are talking about the online website www.wikipedia.org which has been ranked the 10th busiest domain on the Internet.

The website has a wealth of knowledge authored by over 5 million registered editors. It is an example of online encyclopedia, collaboratively authored by the society serving the community as an open source of knowledge with no practical limit to the number of topics it can cover.

Wikipedia’s name is a portmanteau of the words wiki (a type of collaborative website like ‘What I Know Is’) and encyclopaedia (Wikiwiki in Hawaiian means quick say for reference). Wikipedia was founded by Jimmy Wales in 2001 as a free, community project under the vision of Larry Sanger who was editor-in-chief of nupedia.com wherecan subject experts worldwide authored. He suggested a lighter version with public contribution to create an all new encyclopaedia.
The Wikimedia Foundation was established in 2003 as a non-profit organisation to oversee the wikipaedia project and its expansions. Currently the foundation offers a wide gamut of wiki-projects:
  • Commons — Free media repository
  • Wikinews — Free-content news
  • Wiktionary — Dictionary and thesaurusl
  • Wikiquote — Collection of quotations
  • Wikibooks — Free textbooks and manuals
  • Wikisource — Free-content library
  • Wikispecies — Directory of species
  • Wikiversity — Free learning materials and activities
  • Meta-Wiki — Wikimedia project coordination

All Wikipedia content must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), representing views fairly, proportionately and without bias. Details of this policy can be found online at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Neutral_point_of_view.

NPOV requires views to be represented without bias with respect to class, commercial, ethnic or racial, geographical, nationalistic, gender, political, religious, sensationalist or the scientific. Perhaps this neutrality attributes to the information focus on content backed up by verifiability.
Wikipedia is neither a dictionary nor a publisher of original thought. It is also not a personal essay of opinions or a discussion forum. It also does not follow the news streams like primary source journalism. There are no self-promotional articles or sponsor advertisements.

Wikipedia articles are about the people, concepts, places, events, and things that their titles denote. The articles contain relevant referential link to other wikipedia articles and other sources from the public domain. Anyone reading Wikipedia can edit an article and the changes are displayed instantaneously without any checking to ensure appropriateness. But based on reader reviews, inappropriate content is usually removed immediately.

Wikipedia is very much internationalised that as of 2007, almost 75 per cent of its articles are non-English. The license Wikipedia uses grants free access to its content in the same sense as free software. Content is bound by copyright for contributors and freely licensed to the public under the GNU Free Documentation Licence (GFDL).

That is to say, Wikipedia content can be copied, modified, and redistributed so long as the new version grants the same freedoms to others and acknowledges the authors of the Wikipedia article used.So enjoy free reading, for example access their English homepage at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page.

Magic of mobile phones and GSM

We are celebrating mobile phones this week with Nawras winning the Middle East Mobile Operator of the year award for 2007. DO is glad to congratulate them for transforming the mobile communications landscape of Oman with service innovation and customer care.The First MobileThe first fully automatic mobile phone system, called MTA (Mobile Telephone system A), was developed by Ericsson and commercially released in Sweden in 1956. However the mobiles were so heavy that had been usually installed in vehicles and were bulky enough to discourage being hand-carried. The launch of the Motorola DynaTAC1 8000X on the March 6, 1983, can define the telecommunication era into BM (Before Mobiles) and AM (After Mobiles); where people are now able to communicate anytime, anyplace, anywhere. For up-to-date statistics on GSM proliferation access online http://www.gsmworld.com/news/statistics/index.shtml.

Generation — 0

In the beginning, each mobile phone had a defined area or a 'Cell' within which they can operate throughout the phone call. Switching between cell stations was not possible and hence they could be used for a mobile connectivity. In 1970 such a call-handing-off system was invented at the Bell Labs. Here the phone can be mobile within a network of cell-stations and yet maintain continuity within a single call. The first public commercial mobile phone network namely the ARP network in Finland in 1971 is considered as the 0G cellular network.

First Generation (1G)

With Motorola DynaTAC 8000X being the first handheld 1G mobile phone, the market was busy installing cell-station networks that enable the same radio frequencies to be reused simultaneously in other cells. The cell-phones are based on these cell-station networks with multiple base-stations located within a close proximity to form a network. Within these networks the calls are automatically handed-over to the next cell station creating a seamless connectivity for the mobile users.

Second Generation (2G)

Global System for Mobile communications (GSM) belonging to the 2nd generation technology (due to digital call quality and low-cost text messaging capability) is clearly the most popular standard for mobile phones in the world. GSM accounts for 82 per cent of the global mobile market with over 29 per cent of the global population using GSM technology. Precisely 20 years ago, on September 7, 1987, 15 phone firms signed an agreement to build mobile networks based on GSM and now the GSM Association has operator members in 218 countries and territories. The first GSM network was launched in 1991 by Radiolinja in Finland with joint technical infrastructure maintenance from Ericsson.In GSMs, the SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card carries the subscription information, phone book and this can be easily swapped between mobile phones. Similarly mobiles can operate on SIM cards of different mobile service providers and newer mobiles can accommodate SIM cards of two different technologies say GSM and CDMA. There are 2.5 billion GSM connections worldwide with about 7billion text messages being exchanged every day.

Third Generation (3G)

Mobiles are becoming sleeker, long-lasting and more affordable, which demands higher data rates fit for live streaming of radio and television. This was partially met by several competing but non-compatible standards like the CDMA2000 1x,GPRS, EDGE, UMTS, HSPDA and CDMA2000 1xEV-DO all belong to this third Gen providing wide-area wireless voice telephony and broadband wireless data services at higher speeds.The futureMobiles of the feature are simply wearable into clothing or footwear or even pervasive enough to be implanted into human body. Most modern automobiles will have built-in mobile systems for 3-D based auto navigation and intelligent communication. 3G devices of the future will be feature-rich with voice and multimedia services delivering streaming media live on demand.